Mary Kom, Shiva in boxing squads for Asian Olympic Qualifiers

New Delhi: Five-time world champion M C Mary Kom (51kg) pipped arch-rival Pinki Jangra in the women's squad, while World Championships bronze-medallist Shiva Thapa (56kg) expectedly made the cut in a star-studded men's boxing team announced today for the Asian Olympic Qualifiers in China from March 23.

Mary Kom and Shiva Thapa
Mary Kom and Shiva Thapa

The squad for the event to be held in the Chinese city of Qian'an was picked after selection trials conducted on March 7 and 8 in Patiala. There were no surprises on offer in both the squads and Mary Kom once again managed to get the selectors' nod over Pinki, who has emerged as the strongest rival to the celebrated Manipuri, who is a bronze-medallist from the 2012 London Olympic Games.

Asian Games bronze-medallist L Sarita Devi (60kg) was the other prominent name in the three-member women's squad which also featured Pooja Rani (75kg).

The men's squad was also on expected lines with Shiva, who injured himself during the trials, getting the nod. The 22-year-old, a former Asian champion, had missed a qualification chance during last year's World Championships when he lost in the Olympic quota box-off after winning the bronze medal.

Commonwealth Games silver-medallists L Devendro Singh (49kg) and Mandeep Jangra (69kg) are among the prominent contenders for a quota place along with Asian silver-medallist Vikas Krishan (75kg).

The team is expected to leave for China on March 20, subject to getting Chinese visa on time, the AIBA ad-hoc committee administering boxing in India, said in a statement.

In all the weight categories, the top three boxers in men and top two in women would qualify for the Olympics in August to be hosted by the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro.

In all, 30 men's slots and six women's slots will be filled via these qualifiers.

The flipside for the Indians is that even if they qualify, they could be barred from the Olympics if a new national federation does not take shape by the end of this month.

The Squads:
Men: L Devendro Singh (49kg), Gaurav Bidhuri (52kg), Shiva Thapa (56kg), Dheeraj (60kg), Manoj Kumar (64kg), Mandeep Jangra (69kg), Vikas Krishan (75kg), Sumit Sangwan (81kg), Parveen Kumar (91kg), Satish Kumar (+91kg).

Women: M C Mary Kom (51kg), L Sarita Devi (60kg) and Pooja Rani (75kg).

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