Everything seems to be happening a little early for boxer Shiva Thapa. He started his career at the age of seven, became junior national champion at 12 and three years later won his first international gold medal (Haider Aliyev Cup) following which he was selected to represent India in the World Junior Championship in Armenia, where he won bronze.
His biggest wins came in 2010 where he won silver at the World Youth Championships and inaugural Youth Olympic Games, Singapore. Thereafter, a gold in the Asian Olympic Qualifiers (56kg category) saw him become the youngest Indian boxer to qualify for the London Olympics. Presented with the historic opportunity of becoming India’s youngest Olympic medal winner now, Thapa is eager to grab his moment of glory. “The biggest moment of my life has arrived. How can I be nervous about it?” Thapa told MiD DAY recently from the National Institute of Sport in Patiala where he has been training with the Olympic-bound Indian contingent.
“I have been living this dream — of being an Olympic champion at 18 — ever since I started boxing. I have made a lot of sacrifices to reach this stage. I won’t let this opportunity go away so easily,” he added.
Despite the weight of expectation, Thapa if confident but wary of being over-confident all the same. “I am confident, but not over-confident. I know I can do well. I have done my homework. I am fortunate to have played against some of the top boxers in my category and have even beaten some of them. A little pressure is always good. It helps you perform better,” said Thapa, who is focusing on endurance training. “I have committed quite a few mistakes in some of my previous bouts and so am working on them,” he said.
Thapa, was initially trained by his father Padam, a karate instructor in Guwahati and even tried his hands at karate, taekwondo and football before settling for boxing. Needless to say, his Olympic qualification has spurred a huge following for the sport back home. “Boxing has grown by leaps and bounds in Assam and youngsters do feel inspired by my Olympic qualification. It’s my duty now to ensure that I do not disappoint anyone with my performance in London.
Please pray for me,” he signed off.