SHIVA THAPA, 18

BOX­ING, 56 KG BAN­TAMWEIGHT Guwahati, As­sam

India Today - - SPORTS -

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.”

SHEKHAR GHOSH

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