Coach Nieva targets five medals at Asiad

Coach Nieva targets five medals at Asiad

With the Asian Games less than a month away, the Indian boxers are busy polishing their skills at the Sheffield Centre of Excellence in England in the final lap of preparation.

The High-Performance Director and men's coach Santiago Nieva is satisfied with his wards' progress and hopes for at least five medals in the Jakarta-Palembang event, beginning August 18.

The Indian squad at Sheffield comprises 10 men and 12 women, including the Asian Games-bound pugilists, who will train at the facility till Sunday. With Great Britain and Canadian teams also training at the same venue, Nieva was excited about the opportunity it presented the Indian pugilists.

“All the top boxers are here. England is a strong boxing country, so it was good for us to come here. With England national boxers (including the development squad), along with Canadian boxers also present here, we are having some world class sparring sessions with them,” Nieva told DH from Sheffield.

The Swede was particularly impressed with the facilities at the excellence centre. “The facilities are top-class here. They are definitely ahead of us. Their video analysis set up is very good. We are learning quite a bit regarding how they record their sparring bouts, analyse the performances and their international opponents. They have a fantastic 200m indoor track. We would like to establish something on the similar lines in India,” he said.

“Although we have a lot of facilities back home, they are bigger on sports science and physiotherapy. They also have the hypoxic ring, the world's first, for high altitude experience. It will help in building endurance. Their performance staff is big. So it is a good exposure for our boxers. We have been working a little bit more on staying closer to the opponents, as some of our boxers are not comfortable to put pressure on the opponent from close range. Overall, we are basically focussing on individual areas of the boxers.”

Indian boxers had returned with their best Commonwealth Games showing in Gold Coast, where they had earned nine medals. Nieva said the boxers since then have shown steady upswing in their performances. “The confidence level is very high, they have been very consistent as one can make out from their results. Their performance, especially in the Chemistry Cup, was really good. And it's not just about one tournament, so that tells us that they are moving in the right direction,” he said.

Asian Games, however, will be a tougher outing with boxers from Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan leading the challenge. “Even Mongolia has some very good boxers, so there will be two or three strong teams which would be the main opponents. Still keeping in mind the international season we had, we should do well. At least five medals, without going into the colour, is what I expect,” he said.

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