Manoj Kumar was the first Indian boxer to qualify for the London Olympics after his superb performance in World Boxing Championship at Baku, after he made it to the quarterfinals. The 2010 Commonwealth Games gold medallist talks to Gaurav Jha of Indian Sports News about his preparation for the Games, the injuries that he had, the expectations that he has from the Olympics and much more.
ISN: It is less than a month to go for London Olympics. How is the feeling in the camp?
Manoj: The feeling is very good. This time we have a strong group of boxers and each one of them is confident ahead of the games. The best thing is that all of us know that we deserved a place in the Olympics and we are upbeat about our chances. This time we are not going there to participate, but to win medals.
ISN: There are some very young players in the group, but you are quite experienced. Will that help you?
Manoj: Experience always helps, but in boxing in boxing it does not make much difference. Once you enter a boxing ring, it is about how many punches you can land and that’s what matters in the end. Being young or experienced doesn’t have that much say. Some of the young boxers in our team are very talented and it will be very exciting to see them compete.
ISN: You have had some injury problems in the past, how are things shaping up as the Olympics are just round the corner.
Manoj: Yes, I had some trouble with my left hand but everything seems to have sorted out. I suffered a fracture in that hand, but after continuous treatment I can say that I am hundred per cent fit. I still do not use my left hand as much as I would have liked, as I am saving my best for the Olympics. You will see me unleash my full power in the Olympics.
ISN: Who do you think will be your strongest competition?
Manoj: I can’t single out a particular player or a country as when it comes to boxing anyone can pull up a surprise. Boxing is a very unpredictable sport and there are hardly any favourites. Everyone who has qualified will be a good boxer, but I don’t worry about that as my main focus is on my game.
ISN: How are the preparations been ahead of the London Games?
Manoj: We have been preparing from a long time and things look good. Recently we went to Ireland and that was a great help because the climate and food there will be almost similar to what we will get in London. Now we are training in National Institute of Sports (NIS), Patiala and that has been very helpful too. Qualifying in Baku game me a lot of time to prepare and I am absolutely ready for the Olympics.
ISN: Where do you think your strength lies?
Manoj: I use my left hand more and that is considered to be my strength, I have been resting that arm from the past few weeks and will test it in Olympics. I am saving my best for Olympics and hopefully everything will go according to plan.
ISN: Mary Kom is the first women boxer to have qualified for the Olympics, what do you have to say about that.
Manoj: What can I say? She is a five times world champion and that says it all. She has been an inspiration for all the boxers and it is great to have her in our boxing team. She totally deserved to compete in Olympics and I am pretty sure that she will win a medal for us.
By Gaurav Jha
Indian Sports News Network