Asian Olympic Qualifiers: Simranjit, Mary Kom, Amit Panghal earn Olympic quotas

March 10, 2020

BoxingAsian Olympic Qualifiers


A calm and collected MC Mary Kom qualified for the Tokyo Olympics beating Irish Magno of Philippines in a unanimous 5-0 verdict at the Asia/Oceania Olympic qualifier in Amman, Jordan on Monday. The 37-year-old mother of four will compete in her second Olympics, having won a path-breaking bronze at the 2012 London Olympics.

The six-time world champion, who failed to qualify for the 2016 Rio Games, has moved up from her favourite 48kg to 51kg for Tokyo. Mary Kom’s vast experience was for all to see as she brilliantly controlled the tempo of the bout. She gauged her opponent in a close first round, staying away and defending well against an aggressive Magno. It was still scored 3-2 in the Indian’s favour.

Once she had sized up her opponent, the southpaw stepped up her attacks in the second round, and had enough energy to unleash a flurry of powerful punches towards the end, forcing Magno to retreat and registering a convincing victory. Mary Kom will next face Chang Yuan of China for a berth in the final.

India took their number of Olympic quota places to eight when Simranjit Kaur (60kg) also won her quarter-final bout.

Men’s 52kg boxer Amit Panghal qualified for his maiden Olympics. He is seldom used to being pushed to the corner. He is sharp when it comes to reading his opponent and making tactical changes to come out on top. In the Amman tournament, however, Panghal has lived on the edge.

For the second consecutive bout, Panghal had to overcome strong resistance. The world championships silver medallist and top seed just about managed to edge past Carlo Paalam of Philippines, winning 4-1 in a split verdict to enter the semi-finals.

Manish Kaushik (63kg), the only other Indian male boxer who won a medal (bronze) at the world championships last year, will have to wait to seal his Tokyo berth. He lost his quarter-final 2-3 to third seed Chinzorig Baatarsukh of Mongolia in a thrilling contest that saw the boxers engage in fierce exchanges.

Kaushik had beaten Chinzorig at the world championships, but the Mongolian was better prepared this time and his hard punches left the Indian in disarray. Kaushik is still in with a chance to qualify as six boxers will make the cut in his category. Kaushik will have to beat Harrison Garside of Australia, another losing quarter-finalist, on Wednesday to ensure a Games berth. Sachin Kumar (81kg) will also figure in box-off bouts over the next two days.

Like Kaushik, Panghal also faced a familiar opponent in Carlo Paalam whom the Indian had beaten twice before, in the Asian Games and World Championships. This time, however, Paalam was aggressive from the start and landed some clean punches. Panghal still managed to counter-punch his way to a 3-2 split verdict in the first round. He found his range in the second though Paalam too had his share of scoring punches. It all boiled down to the final round where Panghal and Paalam were involved in intense exchanges with the Indian eventually scraping through to the semi-finals. Panghal next meets Rio Olympics bronze medallist, Hu Jianguan of China, who defeated world championships bronze medallist and fourth seed Kazakh Saken Bibossinov 5-0.

“I have beaten him (Paalam) twice, so I was confident going into this match. I executed the strategy of my coaches to come out on top. I also beat the Chinese boxer in the Asian Championships and will look to seal a place in the final,” Panghal, the Asian Games and Asian Championships gold medallist, said.

Simranjit Kaur (60 kg) defeated Namuun Monkhor of Mongolia 5-0 in the quarters to book her Tokyo spot. She will next face Wu Shih-Yi of Chinese Taipei in the semi-final.

Former junior world champion Sakshi Chaudhary (57kg) lost her quarterfinal 0-5 to Korea’s Im Aeji. The 19-year-old will not get another opportunity to seal a Tokyo berth as only semi-finalists qualify in her division.

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