Goa came up with the best ever show from the boxing arena, winning nine medals, that included three golds from Sakshi Chaudhury (50kg), Rajat (71kg) and Gaurav Chouhan (92+kg) as the boxing competitions at the 37th National Games culminated at the Peddem Indoor Stadium here on Wednesday.
Besides the trio, Akash Gorkha (63.5kg), Lokesh (80kg) and Sanamacha Chanu (75kg) ended up with silver medals while Roshan Zamir (51kg), Sai Ayush (92kg) and Niharika (60kg) had earlier settled for bronze medals to cap off a memorable outing for the contingent.
Playing his first ever National Games, Rajat registered a stunning comeback win against two-time national champion Akash of the Services 4-1 to clinch the gold in the men’s light middle weight category.
Son of a government teacher in Haryana’s Hisar district, Rajat is happy to shine for Goa, six months after joining the side in the build-up to the Games. On Wednesday, the 22-year-old started on a sluggish note to lose the first round 1-4, but staged a stunning comeback and regained control of the bout to take the second round 4-1 before unleashing his beast mode in the third and decisive round, that eventually went for a bout review.
“Can’t be happier. This is my first ever National Games gold, and my first medal in the senior category. That doubles the joy. It was a tough bout, my opponent is a two-time national champion and has also represented India in international tournaments, so winning against him gives me a lot of confidence,” he said while thanking Goa for giving him the opportunity.
“I want to thank Goa for allowing me to represent them, and happy to win the gold for the side. This has been a dream and I want to dedicate this medal to my parents, who have been very supportive of my choice even though I’m the only one from the joint family to choose sport as a career.”
Earlier, two-time youth world champion Sakshi led the gold rush for the home side by registering a convincing victory in the light flyweight category final over Malika of Madhya Pradesh. The pre-tournament favourite lived up to the billing by dominating all three rounds of the contest to walk away with the gold.
The Bhiwani-born pugilist started off with a couple of jabs that landed on target, before unsettling her opponent with a series of combination punches to take the first round.
The momentum after the breather in the second even as the MP boxer tried to gain some lost ground towards the end.
Sakshi left her best for the third round, when she got her trademark jabs landing perfectly on target to confirm the first gold for the home team from the boxing ring.
“This is my first National Games gold, it’s always a special feeling of winning a gold at the National Games. I have won numerous medals from the junior nationals, youth and senior nationals, but winning a gold at the National Games is all the more special.”
Sakshi also expressed her gratitude to Goa for supporting her in her endeavour to win the gold medal.
“I have received great support from the state, be it in terms of my training or even during competitions, which helped me sail smoothly in all the four bouts that I played during the 37th National Games,” she said while mentioning that her next target is to win the gold at the upcoming senior women’s national boxing championships, next month in Noida.
Akash, the second Goan boxer in action on the day had to be satisfied with a silver medal after going down 1-4 in a pulsating contest against Olympian Manish Kaushik of the Services in the men’s light welter weight category final.
Products of the famed Army Sports Institute (ASI) Pune, the familiarity factor between the two boxers made the bout even more tantalising with Manish clearly taking the first round before Akash roared back in style to give a stiff fight to the Bhiwani pugilist.
Akash kept the momentum going in the third round that turned bloody with Manish suffering a cut on his left eyebrow but the Services boxer made sure he went the distance to eventually earn a 4-1 split decision win.
Among others, Lokesh bagged the silver in men’s light heavy weight category after going down to Sanjay of SSCB by Unanimous Decision. Sanamacha Chanu also suffered a similar fate finishing second to Haryana’s Saweety Boora 0-5 in women’s middle weight division.
In the Super heavy weight division, Gaurav ended Goa’s campaign with a thrilling 4-3 win over Chandigarh’s Sawan Gill in a close affair that was decided by a bout review. The pendulum swung both sides across the three rounds before Gaurav took home the gold.