On day one of Olympic Qualifiers Indian boxers started with a winning not in Amman, Jordan. Gaurav Solanki was the first in fray in 52-57kg category. He outplayed Akylbek Esenbek Uulu of Kyrgyzstan by unanimous decision to cruise into round of 16.
In 69-75kg category, Ashish Kumar didn’t disappoint Indian fans as he also reached the pre-quarters by defeating Kan Chia-Wei of Chinese Taipei by unanimous verdict. He was a bit slow in first round and Kan was favoured by judges but he completely dominated the next two rounds.
Ashish will square off against Kyrgyzstan’s Omurbek Bekzhigit Uulu, who has been seeded fourth. The Indian had beaten Uulu in the quarter-finals of the Asian Championships last year.
Solanki, whose CWG gold was in the 52kg division, will be up against top-seeded Uzbek Mirazizbek Mirzakhalilov, who got a bye into the second round.
Mirzakhalilov is the reigning world champion in this weight category besides being a gold-medallist at the 2018 Asian Games as well as the 2019 Asian Championships.
Tokyo Qualification and Indian team
At the Tokyo Olympics, men will compete in eight weight categories while women will have five weight classes. The qualifiers, hence, will be held in the same categories.
Men: Flyweight (52kg), Featherweight (57kg), Lightweight (63kg), Welterweight (69kg), Middleweight (75kg), Light heavyweight (81kg), Heavyweight (91kg), Super heavyweight (+91kg)
Women: Flyweight (51kg), Featherweight (57kg), Lightweight (60kg), Welterweight (69kg), Middleweight (75kg)
How does the qualification system work?
Post the suspension of the game’s global governing body (AIBA), the International Olympic Committee (IOC) set up an Olympic Boxing Task Force and entrusted it with the task of conducting Olympic qualifiers. The Task Force devised a qualifying system consisting of five qualifying tournaments — four continental events followed by a world event. The world qualifying event will be open to athletes from the National Olympic Committees (NOC’s) who are yet to obtain a quota place in a weight class. Thus, a boxer gets two chances to secure an Olympic berth.
Boxers will be fighting for 63 spots – 41 for men and 22 for women – at this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo.
33 boxers have already booked Olympic places through African qualifying, which took place in Dakar last month. For those who fail to qualify through their continental event, there will be a second chance at a world tournament in Paris in May.