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#RoadtoRio: Will Shiva Thapa add a medal to India’s Olympic dream?

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Image Credits: Indian Express

Boxing is a mind game, it’s not only about power”, says Shiva Thapa. I know after hearing this concept about boxing from the Indian pugilist, you may be a little bit surprised. Almost all of us may have the opinion that boxing is a game of power, aggression and muscles. But Shiva Thapa believes that an intelligent person having good fitness is better off than a healthy person. “I always prefer brain over brawn”, he says.

As a promising boxer of India, Shiva Thapa follows strict health habits including working out every day in the gym, going for a morning walk, eating plenty of salads and drinking plenty of water, avoiding junk and oily food, practicing everyday etc.

No doubt at this young age itself, Shiva Thapa has won several achievements by hard work.  Having donned the gloves for the first time at the tender age of 7 years, Shiva took up boxing with his brother Gobind Thapa (also a medal winning boxer) as a mentor and father Padam Thapa (a karate expert) as his first coach. Born on 8th Dec 1993, Shiva became the youngest Indian boxer to qualify for the Olympics when he represented India at the London Olympics in 2012 at the age of 18.

Shiva Thapa has been the face of Indian boxing at every international event.

Thapa qualified for the 2016 sporting extravaganza by beating Kazakhstan’s Kairat Yeraliev in the semi-finals of the Asia and Oceania Olympic qualifiers held in April this year. With all the other promising boxers failing to qualify for Rio, coach Gurbax Singh Sandhu was finally relieved when the top seeded Thapa made it to the finals in the bantamweight (56kg) category. Although, he lost the final to Thailand’s Butdee Chatchai and ended up with silver.

Shiva created his image in the Indian boxing world when he performed consistently in international boxing events as he won bronze medal at AIBA World Junior Boxing Championship, Armenia in 2009, silver medal at AIBA World Junior Boxing Championship, Baku in 2010 and a silver medal at Youth Olympic Games, Singapore in 2010.

Despite suffering from an injured fist, he won a silver medal at the 2010 Summer Youth Olympic Games. He had also won a bronze medal at Junior World Championship, Korea in 2004.

However, Shiva’s career went on a low when he faced shock defeats at his home in the New Delhi Commonwealth games and the Guangzhou Asian games. His qualification to London in 2012 was also termed as a fluke by the critics as he lost in the first round. But the young Assamese lad came back strong to become the youngest Indian to win gold at the Asian Championship, Amman in 2013. He went on to create history and won bronze at the Doha World Championship in 2015 becoming only the third Indian after Vijender Singh (2009) and Vikas Krishan (2011) to fetch a World Championships medal.

Shiva is currently the solitary hope for India as far as boxing is considered as he is the only one to have qualified for the main event at Rio. Currently ranked 6th in the world, Shiva has a tough road ahead and is expected to face stiff challenge from his counterparts. He needs to prove his mettle and go one step ahead this time to ensure that he gets what he truly deserves.

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Mayank is a sports enthusiast and die hard football fan. He loves reading sports journals, watching sports, listens to music and plays guitar. He's covering India's Olympic Mission at Rio 2016 Summer Games.