SHIVA THAPA, 18
BOXING, 56 KG BANTAMWEIGHT Guwahati, Assam
HIS STORY He calls it a mind game, where staying alert, being competitive and keeping cool triumphs over age and experience. Shiva Thapa made this evident when he defeated World No. 2 and Amateur Boxing Champion Delakliev Detelin of Bulgaria in his first international competition at the senior level, the Belgrade Winner Tournament in 2011, to claim the gold. This optimistic teenager from Assam was a football buff but Mike Tyson’s inspiring bouts coupled with his desire to opt for an individual sport made him choose boxing over football at the age of nine. Thapa’s family supported him to the hilt. His father, Padam, a karate instructor, learnt about boxing to help his son. Thapa’s elder brother was his sparring partner, and the boxer says some of his best fights have been with his sibling. This Olympics, Thapa joins India’s seven- man boxing contingent, eager to grab glory.
VANTAGE POINT Thapa secured gold at the Asian Olympic qualifying event in the 56 kg bantamweight category in April in Astana, Kazakhstan, beating 2010 Asian Games bronze medallist Wessam Salamana of Syria.
CHALLENGE AHEAD While most boxers do an in- depth analysis of their opponent’s techniques, Thapa avoids research and
adapts to the moves of his rival, calculating counterattacks on the spot.
OLYMPIC RUN- UP This teen sensation makes mistakes, but doesn’t shy away from admitting them. He works on them with determination. In the 43rd Grand Prix held in Czech Republic in March, Thapa played extremely well through the final bout but was handed a two- point penalty just 30 seconds from the closing, which denied him a gold. He learnt from this disappointment and clinched the gold at the Olympic qualifiers.
“When Vijender won the bronze in Beijing, it brought attention to boxing and gave amateurs like me someone to look up to. When I qualified, I passed on the hope to my juniors. This will go on.”