Asiad heroes gunning for more success

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Acclaim and recognition continue to pour in for the medal winners, who did India proud at the Guangzhou Asian Games last month.

On Thursday, it was the turn of contingent sponsors Samsung to honour and reward several of the Asiad medallists at a function in the Capital, where the elite sportspersons took great delight in reliving their moment of glory.

Beijing Olympics bronze medallist Vijender Kumar, who defeated two-time world champion Uzbek Abbos Atoev in the middleweight final to win the gold in the Chinese city, said the yellow medal was redemption for the disappointment at the Delhi Commonwealth Games (CWG).

“After missing out on home turf, only a gold was in my mind,” the Bhiwani boxer said. “I did not attend many felicitation functions after the CWG as I was smarting from the defeat.” Vijender had to settle for a bronze at the CWG after losing a contentious semi- final bout against Antony Ogogo of England.

But China has always been a happy hunting ground for the star pugilist, who was adjudged the most valuable Indian performer at the Asian Games.

“I won the Olympic bronze in Beijing, another one at the Asian championships in Zhuhai last year and now the Asian Games gold. China has been lucky for me,” Vijender said.

Looking ahead to the 2012 London Olympics, he said there was still room for improvement in his pursuit for glory in England. “I have to work on my fitness. The national camp will resume in Patiala in January where we will start training again.” Flyweight pugilist Suranjoy Singh, who won gold in Delhi, was disappointed with a bronze medal finish in China. “I was hoping for a gold. Next time, I will ensure that the colour of the medal is different,” the Manipur boxer said.

Rifle shooter Gagan Narang, who followed his feat of four gold medals at the CWG with two silver in Guangzhou, was satisfied with his performance ” The standard of competition in shooting at the Asian Games is almost at par with the Olympics. Getting a silver was a good effort, but the colour could have been different. I won three bronze medals at the Doha Asian Games and wanted to do better this time.

“The CWG on home turf set the ball rolling. All that we as sportspersons need to do is give our best and hope it is good enough on the given day,” the Hyderabad marksman said.

Several other gold medallists were in attendance including the new golden girl of athletics, Ashwini Akkunji, and her relay teammates Manjeet Kaur and Mandeep Kaur.

The men’s and women’s kabaddi teams were also present as was pugilist Vikas Krishan and rower Bajrang Lal Takhar. Gold medallist in the 400m hurdles Joseph Abraham also graced the occasion.

The Indian Olympic Association was represented by its secretary general Randhir Singh.

Samota packs a punch

Imdia has traditionally excelled in the lighter weight categories in boxing but Paramjeet Samota believes the country can now expect laurels in the heavier sections as well.

The Bhiwani boxer, who competes in the + 91 category, won the gold medal at the Delhi Commonwealth Games and followed that with a bronze at the Asiad.

“The future for India in the heavier weight categories is bright. Apart from myself, there is Ram Singh who competes in my category only. We train together and he has a bright future ahead of him,” Samota said.

He does not hesitate in crediting Vijender Kumar for the turnaround in Indian boxing.

“The last few years have been great. It all started with Vijender’s bronze medal at the Beijing Olympics. He showed us the way and has always been a motivation for us.” Looking ahead, Samota said 2011 will be the year for securing an Olympic berth. “I will concentrate on the nationals and will join the camp in Patiala.”
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This post was submitted by Mudit Agrawal.

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