New Delhi: Vijender Singh became the first Indian boxer to qualify for the Olympic Games for a third successive time after reaching the semifinals of the Asian Olympic Qualifiers in Astana, Kazakhstan on Sunday.
The first Indian to win an Olympic and World Championships medal - bronze in both events - Vijender outpunched Chuluuntumur Tumurkhuyag of Mongolia 27-17 to not just assure himself of an Olympic berth but also a medal at the ongoing tournament.
"I am back," were Vijender's first words after winning the crucial bout, a loss in which would have ended his hopes of making the London Games.
The 26-year-old had failed in his first attempt to book a ticket for London in last year's World Championships.
"I have answered all my critics, who said that I was finished (after losing in the first round of World Championships)," said the former world number one, who was gasping for breath after a draining encounter.
Before the 2008 Beijing Games, Vijender had won gold at the Asian Qualifiers at that time, which incidentally were also held in Kazakhstan.