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Indian pugilists face a tough draw at Olympics

Beijing, Aug 8 (UNI) With no byes in the first round, Indian boxers were drawn against some tough opponents as AL Lakra will face Athens Olympics bronze medallist Bahodirjon Sultonov of Uzbekistan in the 57kg category, while Vijender Kumar (75kg) got a relatively easy draw against Jack Badaou of Gambia here today.

The five-member Indian contingent without a bye in the first will expect Lakra, who was the first Indian boxer to book his ticket to Beijing, to be on top of his game so as to thwart his opponent's challenge in the opening round on Monday at the Workers' Gymnasium.

However, Vijender's task does not seem to be difficult as he been lined up against Badaou, especially after his recent win over Athens Olympics' welter weight gold medallist Bakhtiyar Artayev of Kazakhstan in the President's Cup in Chinese Taipei.

Meanwhile, Dinesh Kumar, in the 81kg category, will lock horns against Abdelhafid Benchabla of Algeria tomorrow.

Jitender Kumar (51kg) will take on Furkan Ulas Memis of Turkey in the first round, while Akhil Kumar (54kg) will meet Ali Hallab of France.

The draw should not be very pleasing for the Indian contingent but coach GS Sandhu said his boys were all geared up to take on the challenge and will put their best foot forward.

''At a stage like this, you can not underestimate any one.

More or less, every body are of the same category,'' Sandhu said.

''Lakra definitely has a tough job at hand but when you are there in the ring, you don't have time to think about your opponent's status,'' he said.

The coach, however, was disappointed with the fact that none of the Indian pugilist got a bye in the opening round.

''Surely, we did not have luck on our side. We did not get a single bye, whereas the Japanese and Thai were lucky to get more than one. It's sheer luck, or rather lack of it,'' he said.

''But there is no point in crying over the spilt milk. It would have been good to get one but now that you don't have that, it is better to focus on what you have at the moment.

Sandhu was confident that his wards' hardwork will put show results at the biggest extravaganza here.


Story first published: Friday, August 8, 2008, 18:06 [IST]
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