Gold for Mandeep, 4 others take Silver at Mongolian boxing tourney

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NEW DELHI, June 24 (PTI): Mandeep Jangra (69kg) was the lone Indian boxer to claim a gold medal among the five finalists but the country’s contingent gave a fine account of itself in the summit clashes of the Ulaanbaatar Cup in Mongolia on Sunday.

“I have won an international gold medal after a long time and I hope it would count for something in getting me selected for the Asian Games,” Mandeep, a former Commonwealth Games silver-medallist, told PTI from Ulaanbaatar.

The silver medals went to both the women finalists Sonia Lather (57kg) and Lovlina Borgohain (69kg) and Himanshu Sharma (49kg) and Etash Khan (56kg). All the four boxers fought their hearts out but failed to find favour with judges.

India ended the tournament with one gold, four silver, and four bronze medals.

“It has been a tremendous performance. Those who made the finals were obviously good but even those who lost in the semifinals gave very good performances. I don’t have any complaints with any of them,” men’s coach Jaidev Bisht said.

“Had we been slightly lucky in some bouts, the colour of some medals would have been better,” he added, referring to some of the unexpected losses.

Mandeep was up against local boxer Otgonbaatar Byamba-Erdene and set the pace of the bout with his aggressive combination punches. It helped that his opponent looked out of sorts for most parts, attempting wild swings that hardly connected. Mandeep won the bout on a split decision.

“We haven’t done that well in the welterweight and I have delivered a gold in this division. It has not been easy for me, because I have battled injuries to,” said the boxer, who had been competing in the middleweight for sometime.

He had even clinched the national title in that category last year.

“I was clearly told by the coaches to either change the weight category or forget selection because middleweight is dominated by Vikas (Krishan). So, I lost 10kg and took a shot at welterweight in this tournament. It was a huge gamble for me, and I am glad it paid

off,” he added.

Sonia, a former World and Asian championships silver-medallist, added another second-place finish to her tally despite a strong performance against home favourite Tumurkhuyag Bolortuul.

Lovlina was out-witted by Chinese Taipei’s Nien Chen Chen in a bout that lacked spark for the most part and had very few impact punches on display.

Himanshu was up against a very aggressive Iranian in Omid Ahmadisafa and although the Indian kept his composure, the ferocity of his rival’s attacks tilted the scales. Ahmadisafa won on a split verdict.

Etash was simply unlucky to end up on the losing side against another local favourite Kharkhuu Enkh-Amar. The Indian was the more dominant of the two boxers, connecting cleanly and powerfully.

However, the judges thought otherwise and the gold medal landed with Enkh-Amar in a split verdict.

Ending with bronze medals were Shiva Thapa (60kg), debutant Vanhmlimpuia (75kg), Ashish (64kg), and Bina Devi Koijam (48kg), a direct entrant into the last-four stage owing to the small size of the women’s draw.

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