Early qualification has given boxers more time to prepare: Santiago Nieva

The Indian boxing coach hopes that the core group of boxers, including those who qualified for the Olympics, will be a part of the national camp next month.

As many as nine Indian boxers qualified for the Tokyo Olympics at the Asian qualifiers last March before the coronavirus pandemic stalled all sporting events.

Having so many boxers already secure of their spots at the Olympics makes life easier for Indian boxing High-Performance Director Santiago Nieva.

"We are better off than many other countries in Europe and America," Santiago Nieva told the Sportstar. "We are lucky to have secured a good number of qualifying spots. We just have to refocus when we resume our camp.

"We have more time now to prepare, which is excellent," he pointed out.

The continental Olympic qualifying tournaments kicked off on February 20 in Africa and were followed by the Asian boxing Olympic qualifiers in March.

The American qualifiers were scheduled to start on March 26 but the coronavirus outbreak put it on hold along with the European qualifiers.

Along with Kazakhstan, India has the joint-highest number of pugilists so far who will be heading to Japan next year.

Lovlina Borgohain has sealed her Olympic berth at the Asian boxing Olympic qualifiers
Lovlina Borgohain has sealed her Olympic berth at the Asian boxing Olympic qualifiersLovlina Borgohain has sealed her Olympic berth at the Asian boxing Olympic qualifiers

The chosen ones

Nieva is anticipating the national camp for these boxers to be held sometime in May but accepts that not everyone could be a part of it.

"I think the camp will restart next month," he told the Press Trust of India news agency. "If not full strength, then at least the core group."

The core group will include the nine boxers who qualified for Tokyo and other hopefuls who could potentially make the cut at the World Olympic Qualifying tournament in Paris.

While Amit Panghal, Vikas Krishan, Ashish Kumar, Satish Kumar and Manish Kaushik qualified in the men’s category, MC Mary Kom, Lovlina Borgohain, Simranji Kaur and Pooja Rani are the Indian women pugilists to seal their Olympics berth.

Currently based at NIS Patiala, Santiago Nieva addresses some of the boxers’ concerns over calls, most of whom are training at their respective homes, which the Swede accepted is not necessarily optimal.

"We know that we still have plenty of time before the Olympics," he pointed out to the Indian Express. "And the rest of the world is in the same boat as we are. So we are trying to do our best."

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