Shiva Thapa failed to win a medal at the London 2012 Olympics, but the boxer is ready to seal a podium place in Rio, having gained experience and shown his class in the last couple of years. The 22-year-old, who will participate in the 56 kg bantamweight category, is one of three boxers, who will represent India in the 2016 Olympics. Manoj Kumar and Vikas Krishan are the other two.
Thapa has been brilliant, winning some important medals, which must have helped him build great confidence for Rio. The boxer won gold and bronze in 2013 and 2015 Asian Championships respectively. He also won bronze in the World Championships in Doha in 2015.
It is such achievements, which has increased the hopes of the nation as well. The boxer did receive decent preparation time as he was the first to qualify for Rio in March. Shiva is one of those aggressive boxers, who can have a great day if he executes his plans to perfection. The pugilist from Assam is working on various aspects, and wants to keep a check on his soetimes-over-the-top aggression.
"The one thing that I am working on is my aggression. I am a much more aggressive boxer now but I have to ensure that I never go overboard. Because if you lose control over aggression, you will end up looking absolutely silly inside the ring," Shiva told Times of India in an interview.
"I'm working on blending my style, a calculated fight with adequate aggression. The focus is on building more endurance and strength, and to get tougher. We usually work on speed, but, right now, we are focusing on my strength and power. Different training sessions are planned everyday."
The competition, without a shadow of doubt, will be top-class in Rio, and the Assamese boxer has it in him to deliver the punches to floor his opponents.
While making his Olympics debut as a 22-year-old, Thapa might have been overawed by the atmosphere, but he is a different and much more experienced boxer now. The pugilist is ranked No.6 in the world at present, which talks volumes about his rapid progression in the last four years. He is keen to make this second Olympic opportunity count in Rio.
"When I went for my first Olympics, it was a dream come true. All the motivation was overwhelming and at London, I was pretty focused on winning. But, unfortunately, it got over in a flash. I was very dejected," Shiva said.
"Now, I am a different person and a better boxer for sure. The last four years have been spent in making myself tougher and better. The experience I gained last time, I'm sure that will help. I hope it's going to be less overwhelming. There is a lot more self-belief in me than before. And the big stage and the spotlight does not make me nervous anymore."