Boxer Vijender Singh put Bhiwani, a small village in Haryana on the World map at the Beijing Olympics. A school going boy back then, Manish Kaushik was glued to the television screen as he watched Vijender receive his bronze medal. As Bhiwani gave India its first-ever Olympic medallist in boxing, Manish dreamt of donning the gloves.
13 years down the lane, Manish has become a star boxer and is all set for his maiden Olympics appearance. The 25 year old first burst on to the international scene with a gold medal at the Doha International Boxing Tournament back in 2015. Manish didn’t look back ever since as he went on topple ace boxer Shiva Thapa in the national championship to make his mark.
He then went on to win the silver medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games before he bagged the bronze medal at the 2019 World Championships. He qualified for the Tokyo Olympics as he toppled Australia’s Harrison Garside in a box-off at the Asian Qualifiers. For his great performances in the ring, Manish Kaushik was bestowed with the Arjuna award later that year.
Exclusive interview with Manish Kaushik
In the build up to the much awaited Summer Games, Manish contracted the COVID-19 virus. Fortunately, he was asymptomatic and recovered fairly quickly. But the infection saw him get ruled out of the Asian Boxing Championships where the other Tokyo bound Indian pugilists shined. Manish feels that he lost a great opportunity to gauge his preparation.
“If I had participated, it would have been a great experience ahead of the Games. All the boxers who have qualified from Asia were in attendance, so if I would have competed with them, I would have had an idea where I stand with my preparations,” Manish told FirstSportz in an exclusive interview.
In his radio show Mann ki Baat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed the Olympics bound athletes for their hard work and the Haryana lad was one of them. Manish shares that it was inspirational to hear the Prime Minister of the nation laud him for his hard work.
“PM Narendra Modi shared my story along with many other athletes who hail from middle-class families. He shared the story of our struggles ahead of the Olympics and it touched the hearts of millions. I am very motivated by the fact that he shared my story ahead of the Games and I am even more determined to perform well in Tokyo and bring laurels to the country,” he added.
During his bright international career, Manish has numerous achievements to his name, starting from the Commonwealth Games Silver Medal 2018 and Arjuna Award 2020 to the World Championship 2019 Bronze Medal. When quizzed about his biggest achievement, Manish hailed the silver medal at the Commonwealth Games as the closest to his heart.
“Talking of achievements, I feel the silver medal at the Commonwealth Games as the greatest thus far. It was my first major competition. I had never competed on such a huge level before. The Commonwealth medal was quite a motivation for me, it inspired me to do well in the future.“
“The 2019 World Championship bronze medal made me wonder about the Olympics. If I can bag a medal at the World Championships, where the best of the world competes, then I felt that I can definitely shine at the Olympics.“
“Tokyo Olympics will be the best outing thus far for boxing contingent,” Manish Kaushik
Studies suggest that India will return with a historic medal bounty from the Summer Games. While the Indian boxing contingent failed to shine at the Rio Olympics, Manish Kaushik asserts that Tokyo will witness a historic performance from the Indian pugilists. He is confident that the 2020 Olympic Games will be Indian boxing’s best outing at the event thus far.
“The Tokyo Olympics will bear witness to India’s best performance in boxing thus far in the history of the event. I am confident about it. Many of our boxers are in the top five of the World rankings and the way we are toiling along with our performance off late, Tokyo Olympics will be the best outing thus far for boxing contingent,” Manish quips.
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The Tokyo Olympics will be Manish’s maiden Olympic appearance but the 23 year old shares that there is no additional pressure. He adds that his focus is on bagging an Olympic medal and making his nation proud on the grandest stage of them all.
“I am expecting to return with a medal from Tokyo. Our government is investing quite a lot on us athletes and the public too has expectations from us and we will be looking to stand up to them. Our government bestows athletes with cash awards and jobs when we land a medal, so it is our responsibility too that we return their faith in us with good performances.“
“As this is my first Olympics, so I don’t have any experience on that level. So, I can’t tell what will happen there but I can assure that there is no pressure.“
Olympic Bronze Medalist Vijender Singh and MC Mary Kom have been the biggest names in Indian Boxing. They are the torch bearers of the sport in the country. And Manish feels that it is their hard work and dedication that sparked the revolution in the country. He adds that athletes like them have served as an inspiration and will continue to inspire others for times to come.
“Had they not achieved what they did on the big stage, the young generations would have lacked the inspiration to succeed and try to surpass them. Like Vijender Singh and Mary Kom won Olympic medals, so that motivated people. Before that just featuring in the Olympics was a great feat. As they bagged a medal, it made people think that if they could then why not us,” he signed off
Watch full interview here:
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