This was the final qualifier event for the amateur boxers ahead of the Rio Olympics 2016, and India have made the perfect use of it. Vikas Krishan (75 kg category) and Manoj Kumar (64 kg category) on Thursday joined Shiva Thapa (56 kg category) as the other boxers to represent the nation in Rio 2016.
The duo progressed to the semifinals of the ongoing World Qualifying Tournament organised by the International Boxing Association (AIBA) in Baku, Azerbaijan, and in the process also sealed berth for the nation in the mega quadrennial sporting event.
It was announced earlier in the day that Indian star Mary Kom will not be participating in Rio 2016 and that brought a lot of glum faces, but the recent development has brought the cheer back. "Given the terrible state in which boxing is right now, I am relieved to have qualified for the Games," said Manoj to Press Trust of India following achieving the feat. "There was lot of pressure on the team which is competing here and I am glad that came good."
Manoj got past Tajikistan's Rakhimov Shavkatdzhon to progress to the semifinals of the ongoing competition. The Indian pugilist will be taking on European champion Pat McCormack of Britain in the next round.
Krishan, meanwhile, got past Korea's Lee Dongyun in the quarterfinals and will be up against Turkmenistan's Achilov Arslanbek in the next round. The 24-year-old Indian boxer had earlier this month beaten Nickson Abaka of Kenya in an AIBA Pro Boxing event in New Delhi.
"I am extremely delighted to have secured the Olympic quota," said Vikas. "It has been a long journey with quite a few ups and downs. I was confident in my abilities and always believed that I had what it took to reach the Olympics and put up a strong performance on that stage."
Two more Indians, Devendro Singh (49kg category) and Sumit Sangwan (81kg category), can increase the number of boxers from the country in the Rio games. The duo are also participating in the World Qualifying Tournament in Baku.