World bronze-medallist Manish Kaushik (63kg) on Wednesday became the ninth Indian boxer to book an Olympic berth after winning a brutal box-off at the Asian Qualifiers as the country recorded its best ever qualifying numbers for the quadrennial showpiece.
Kaushik defeated Commonwealth Games champion and second seed Harrison Garside 4-1 to make the cut for Tokyo 2020 after a draining showdown which left the Australian with a bloodied face and the Indian exhausted by painful hits to his ribs.
It was a repeat of the 2018 CWG final, only this time, Kaushik ended up on the winning side. The top six in the 63kg category were entitled to Olympic berths in the ongoing event. Both Kaushik and Garside had lost in the quarterfinals.
“It was my dream to play at the Olympics and today it has finally come true for me and my family. My coaches have made a huge contribution in this,” Kaushik, an Armyman, said after the win.
The other Indians to have qualified for Tokyo Olympics are M C Mary Kom (51kg), Simranjit Kaur (60kg), Lovlina Borgohain (69kg), Pooja Rani (75kg), Amit Panghal (52kg), Vikas Krishan (69kg), Ashish Kumar (75kg) and Satish Kumar (+91kg).
Before this, India’s best qualifying number for an Olympic Games was eight for the 2012 edition in London. That too was achieved over more than one qualifying tournament.
However, in a disappointing result, first-timer Sachin Kumar (81kg) was pummelled by Shabbos Negmatulloev of Tajikistan in his box-off final to bow out of contention for an Olympic place at this event.
Earlier, Olympic-bound Commonwealth Games champion Krishan signed off with a silver medal after an eye injury forced him to pull out of the final on Wednesday.
Krishan, a world and Asian medallist, was to take on Jordan’s Zeyad Eashash in the summit clash.
“He will not compete because of the cut. He has been told by the doctors to pull out,” a source close to the boxer told PTI.
Krishan had defeated second seed Ablaikhan Zhussupov of Kazakhstan, a two-time world bronze-medallist, in the semifinals on Tuesday.
He sustained a cut on his left eyelid in the second round of the bout before claiming a split decision victory.