Asian champion Gaurav Solanki (52kg) was third time lucky as he grabbed the final chance of qualifying for the Youth Olympics by beating Brazil’s Carlos Silva in a fiercely-contested box-off in the World Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria on Thursday.
The Haryana-lad emerged 2-1 triumphant to clinch the last available spot for the Youth Olympics after missing two chances earlier in the championship. “I was very nervous because I had already missed two opportunities and I gave it my all. I think I was the most aggressive and did not relax even for a second today,” Solanki said.
Solanki won each of the three rounds on split decision.
The Indian had earlier lost in the quarterfinal of the mega-event before being defeated in the first box-off. The boxers who made the semifinals earned direct qualification for the Youth Olympics to be held in Nanjing (China), in August.
“I am relieved to have finally won. I was not keeping well through the tournament and that affected my stamina,” said Solanki, who fought his pre-quarters while being down with fever.
“It was a tough bout, Gaurav’s opponent was taller than him and it was three rounds of very exhausting boxing,” coach G Manoharan said.
“I am pleased with his performance given that physically he was not at his best due to illness but he showed remarkable grit today,” he added.
India ended the tournament with one medal and two Olympic quota places.
Shyam Kakara (49kg) won the lone medal — a bronze — for the country, which competed under the International Boxing Association flag due to the federation’s international termination.