Vikas breaks boxing’s gold jinx, lands perfect 10th

Sports

Don't ask how, but Vikas Krishan Yadav had reckoned that 16 per cent of the crowd under that dome-shaped bull-ring of the Foshan Gymnasium was rooting for him. The young Haryanvi couldn't have possibly counted, since he was busy fighting local Hu Qing in the 60kg bout for the gold medal.

But the young boxer — a Youth Olympics medalist and a former world youth champion — ensured that another set of percentages rendered redundant the 84 per cent cheering of the Chinese home-support (again his smart calculation) as he won India its first gold medal in boxing at Guangzhou, also the first in 12 years since Dingko Singh's in Bangkok.

"My strategy was to ensure a 1-point lead against the Chinese and keep it doggedly. If I'd tried to increase my lead, the risk of being scored against was 80 per cent. But by keeping a 1-point lead, which he could cover any time, I guessed the risk was only 20 per cent," the 18-year-old said, adding more math to the might of his punches.

Inconsistent judging during Suranjoy Singh's bout a day prior had added a wee-bit to Vikas' pressure, though not quite instilling any recognisable fear.

"I was conscious that even the lighter punches from him could lead to points. So my strategy was defense," he said, keeping a formidable guard, while he clung onto the necessary 1-point lead.

In the end, Vikas and his coaches had judged just right, as he finished 5-4 winner in a scrappy encounter. But the 2007 World Cadet Champion showed enough maturity to leash his naturally attacking instincts to eke out a crucial gold medal for Indians against the Chinese challengers, who were proving to be unbeatable on their home turf.

"This medal is not just important for me, but for the whole country," said the young boxer, as he took India's Asiad gold medal tally in boxing over the years to 6. Level 1-1 at the end of the opening round, Vikas had reined in his attack and resorted to a tight defense that ultimately suffocated the Chinese — a timely payback to the local boxers who'd employed the very same tactics against the Indians a day earlier.

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