Panaji: Back after a seven-month injury lay-off, Olympian boxer Manish Kaushik reminded the critics of his prowess in the men’s light welter weight category by winning the gold medal at the 37th National Games in Goa and is now looking forward to qualifying for the Paris Olympics.
Down with L4 and L5 disc pain, the 2019 world championships bronze medallist was out of action for a major part of the 2023 season. His last competition before the break was the Senior National Boxing Championships in which he went down to arch rival and six-time Asian championships medallist Shiva Thapa of Assam in the semi-final bout.
“It was a tough phase, I was down with severe pain in the disc. When I consulted the doctor, he recommended complete rest to get over it, and the rest stretched to six-seven months. I missed training sessions, and a couple of important tournaments, including the Hangzhou Asian Games but at the same time it was necessary to get my back in shape,” he said.
Having made his comeback at the 21st Mustafa Hajrulahvoic Memorial tournament in Sarajevo, Bosina and Herzegovina, Manish struck gold in September and has been training rigorously to prepare for the 37th National Games, and subsequently the Senior Nationals, starting November 24 in Shillong. Meghalaya.
On his way to the gold medal at the Peddem Indoor Stadium in Goa, Manish had to rely on his experience to get the better of Akash Gurkha of Goa in the final and was quick to praise his opponent.
“He (Akash) is a very good prospect. One can’t expect the final bout to be one-sided. It was a good contest and I am happy that I could win the gold. Winning a gold at the National Games is always special, and this will give me the confidence ahead of the nationals,” he added.
With the Paris Olympics quota places up for grabs, Manish said there will be no break ahead of the national championships, as he is eyeing a gold to make it to the Olympic qualifiers, slated to be held in Italy.
“That exactly is the idea, and the gold at the National Games has come as a confidence booster. The national championships will be a challenging one, also because it will be held in the chilly conditions late November in Shillong. So, there will be no breather from training, as the aim is to win the gold at the Nationals,” the 27-year-old maintained.
Manish is, however, aware of the challenge that awaits him in the nationals, with Guwahati-born Thapa, expected to relish boxing with a sizable home support for him.
The two have been each other’s biggest rivals on the domestic circuit in recent years and have fought for supremacy to represent India in the light welterweight category. And with a fit-again Manish gaining the momentum from the National Games gold, it could well be the most-awaited bout of the Senior Nationals, later this month.