London: India’s pin-up boxing boy Vijender Singh is flying home on Thursday to nurse an injured back. The Bhiwani boxer, who was a medal hopeful in the London Olympics, lost 17-13 in the quarterfinals of the 75kg class against Uzbekistan’s Abbos Atoev on Monday night. Not in the best of moods, Vijender spoke exclusively. Excerpts from the interview:
Q: So you fought win an injury against Atoev?
A: Yes, I did. These things happen in boxing. You have to play with injury. It happens in all sports.
Q: Did the injury impact your form?
A: When you fight you forget your injury. I did my best against Atoev. Again the scoring was a little controversial, but Atoev is a quality boxer and he was probably better than me. I had my chances but I lost to a better guy. What can you do?
Q: You now want to fight in a higher weight category in the Rio Olympics in 2016?
A: Yes, that’s my plan now. I want to upgrade from 75 (middle weight) to 81 kgs (light heavy). For six years I have played in 75 kgs. I will have a better chance there due to my height. I have four years to prepare myself.
Q: Four years is a long way. What’s your immediate plan?
A: (A bit irritated) Yes, true. I just want to go home and see the doctor. The rehab has to start as soon as possible in NIS, Patiala. I can’t delay this. Once I fix my back, I will start planning.
Q: How would you sum up your London Olympics performance?
A: I thing I did very well. I don’t want to talk about a match which I lost. There are many things beyond your control. On a scale of 10, I will give myself a perfect 10.
Q: Do you think Mary Kom is now the poster girl of Indian boxing?
A: She always was. I think she did a good job by winning bronze, but that was already a foregone conclusion before her event started. I wanted to see whether she could win gold and she didn’t.
Q: But Mary was fighting in a weight category (51 kg) where she was a newcomer. Do you think that’s a reason for failing to win gold?
A: I don’t think so. Our Vikas Krishan is also fighting in a higher weight category (69 kgs). He was unlucky to lose a controversial fight (13-11 against Errol Spence of the US).
Q: Mary Kom said now women’s boxing is at the same level as the men. Your comments?
A: (laughs) Can’t say.