Asian champion Pooja Rani (75kg) and the seasoned Vikas Krishan (69kg) became the first set of Indian boxers to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics 2020 by advancing to the semifinals of the continental qualifiers on Sunday. The fourth-seeded Rani registered a facile win over Thailand’s Pornnipa Chutee in Amman, while Krishan endured a tough fight against third-seeded Japanese Sewonrets Okazawa before also prevailing in a unanimous verdict against the Asian silver-medallist. Also Read - Boxing Federation Starts Online Coaching For Olympic-Bound Boxers Amid Lockdown
Rani defeated her 18-year-old rival 5-0 to be assured of a medal as well as her maiden Olympic spot in the Asia/Oceania Qualifying Tournament. Whereas Krishan will be making his third successive appearance at the quadrennial showpiece. Also Read - Boxing: Manish Kaushik Qualifies For Tokyo 2020, India End Asian Qualifiers With Record Olympic-Berth Haul
The 29-year-old broke Rani had broke into limelight when she won the Asian Championships gold medal last year in the 81 kg category. However, she had to cut down her weight to have another shot at the Olympic berth after having failed four years ago. Also Read - Boxing: Olympic-Bound Vikas Krishan, Simranjit Kaur Enter Final of Asian Qualifiers; Mary Kom Settles For Bronze
In the middleweight category, Rani had also claimed a silver medal at the Asian Championships earlier. While she won the gold medals in the Olympic Test Event for Boxing.
Rani will next face the reigning world and Asian champion Li Qian of China, who has the top billing in this category. Qian had no trouble beating Mongolia’s Myagmarjargal Munkhbat 5-0 in the opening bout of the day.
Taking full advantage of her long reach, Rani outpunched the inexperienced but determined Chutee. The Indian is a three-time Asian medallist besides being a former bronze-winner at the 2014 Asian Games.
Krishan, however, had to slog hard against a brilliant boxer, whose performance was eye-catching despite the loss. Okazawa, a gold-winner at the Olympic Test Event last year, kept Krishan on his toes with his right jabs being particularly effective.
What worked for the Indian was the consistent straight punches to the body, which fetched him the bulk of the points.
Later in the day, Sachin Kumar (81kg) will face China’s Chen Daxaing in another quarterfinal bout.