New Delhi: Three years after being crowned the national champion at home, India’s star boxer Shiva Thapa aims to make his homecoming special by picking up the 60kg gold as the second edition of the India Open kicks off at the Karmabir Nabin Chandra Bordoloi Indoor Stadium in Guwahati, Assam from May 20. Having suffered an upset loss in the semi-finals in the first edition of the India Open at New Delhi last year, the 2015 World Championships bronze medallist is determined to make amends this time.Armed with a silver medal from the GeeBee Boxing Tournament and a bronze medal from the Asian Championships this year, the 25-year-old once again looks sharp and agile and is hungry to prove himself.“Yes, there are a lot of expectations from me for the gold,” said Thapa. “I recently got a bronze medal from the Asian Championships and that tells me that the gold is not far off. I am hungry to change the color of the medal which is what I think every boxer would want to. And it will be all the sweeter if it comes at home in front of my own people,” added Thapa, oozing confidence.The Guwahati pugilist, who created history in Bangkok when he became the first Indian to win a medal in four consecutive editions of the continental event, is now leaving no stone unturned, especially with the World Championships, which is an Olympic qualifier, coming up.“Performing well here will give me a huge boost of confidence ahead of the World Championships. It will be critical to analyze the players who are coming to the India Open as I’ll have to compete with quite a few of them in the World Championships as well,” Shiva Thapa said.Thapa is among 6 Assamese boxers who will vie for the title at the upcoming India Open. Getting a chance to perform in front of his city people gives the former Asian champion an extra impetus to do well. Acknowledging the tremendous support he gets every time he plays at home, Thapa praised the amazing sports environment in Guwahati.“I am very excited to get a chance to play in my hometown,” said Shiva Thapa. “There is an amazing sports environment in the city and people enthusiastically keep supporting the homegrown players. I am sure there will be a lot of people who would want to be a spectator of this mega event and be a part of it,” he hoped.Shiva also expressed optimism that organizing such high-profile events in Assam will help to churn out more talent from the North-East which is a powerhouse of boxing talent and has already contributed immensely to India’s medal tally at major competitions.“Getting a chance to inspire youngsters is a major source of motivation for us. When we first began at the Sub-junior level, we used to get inspired by watching our seniors and how they used to play.“Same way, if we too can motivate more youngsters to join our sport, it’s really a blessing for us. Definitely, the North-east is a powerhouse of talent. If such major tournaments keep happening in the North-east, there will be a lot many youths and youngsters who will come up and take up sports as a profession,” explained Thapa.Also Read: SPORTS NEWS
A DAY of exciting doubles culminated last evening with the Guyanese pair of Jody-Ann Blake and Trenace Lowe battling to a second-place finish in the final of the Women’s doubles, a part of the 61st Senior Caribbean Table Tennis Championships, which is currently being played at Cliff Anderson Sports Hall.Along with silver from Lowe and Blake, the host nation recorded two more medals yesterday. Lowe and Christopher Franklin finished with a Mixed doubles bronze after making it to the semi-final of that competition. Joel Alleyne and Nigel Bryan finished with a bronze in the Men’s doubles.Both bronze medal games were close battles. The two Guyanese captains, Lowe and Franklin, had the best chance of advancing to another final.The pair were actually ahead at 10-8 in the fifth set, but the Dominicans, Esmerlyn Castro and Isaac Vila, rallied back to close the game at 12-10. Incidentally, the same pair won the finals of the competition later in the night against Cubans Livan Martinez and Carrazana Fonseca.Jody-Ann Blake (right) goes for the kill during the women’s final last night.In the quarter-final, Franklin and Lowe had defeated the Barbados pair of Mark Dowell and Anthonette Riley (11-5, 11-6, 11-6).Guyana’s other strong teams in the competition were knocked out in the quarterfinals. Dominicans Santos Emil and Eva Brito defeated Bryan and Blake 3-1, while Joel Alleyne and Nathalie Cummings lost to Martinez and Fonseca by a similar margin.Meanwhile the pair of Bryan and Alleyne lost to Emil Santos and Samuel Galvez 3-1 in the Men’s semi-finals last night.The visitors stormed to an 11-6 win in the opener, but then the Guyanese pair, led by a pumped-up Alleyne rallied back to score six unanswered points.They closed that game at 11-6 after leading 9-3. In the third game, the home team led briefly before the Dominicans stormed back to an 11-7 win. The visitors looked set to finish the match with the score at 10-6 in the fourth game, but the local pair rallied back and scored three unanswered points before an unforced serving error by Bryan ended the battle.In the final, Dominicans Brito and Castro (who had just finished the Mixed doubles final) were able to muscle past Lowe and Blake 3-0 (11-6, 11-7, 11-8).Today the competition continues with the U-21 and Masters competitions.