Gandhinagar (Gujarat): Reigning Asian champion Sanjeet and former Junior World Champion Mandeep Kaur cruised into the quarterfinals of their respective weight divisions at the 36th National Games.
On a day when most bouts either ended in knockouts or RSC, it was Sanjeet, who lived up to his billing against Uttarakhand's 20-year-old Harish Singh, earning another RSC win to enter the quarterfinals.
The difference in class was pretty evident between the two boxers in the Men's 92kg heavyweight category as Sanjeet used his jabs and combination punches to good effect to outclass the Uttarakhand boxer.
Pushed to the corners, the Uttarakhand boxer gave it all in the first two rounds despite being at the receiving end of Sanjeet's wide range of shots. The referee stopped the contest in the final round, ensuring Sanjeet's face-off with Harsh Kaushik of Delhi. Kaushik, recorded a 5-0 unanimous decision verdict over Karnataka's Ajay Kumar. "It was a good warm-up before the quarterfinals. This is my first tournament after the Commonwealth Games disappointment and it feels good to start on a winning note," he said after the bout.
Elaborating on his experience in Birmingham, where he was a front-runner for the 92kg heavyweight gold, Sanjeet said, "It's better I do not recall the CWG bout. The more I think about it, the more it disturbs me. For a good three-four days, I couldn't sleep well as the unexpected result was flashing through my eyes."
Sanjeet returned home for a break but soon went back to full training at the Army Institute of Sports (ASI) in Pune. Thereafter he made his way to IIS, Bellary to prepare for the National Games.
"I did not want sympathy. At home, everyone would keep sympathising with me for the loss. So I moved to ASI to restart my training. All the coaches treated me as if nothing had gone wrong. That gave me the motivation to start all over again. After all every athlete has a low patch in his career, and I would count the CWG experience as one," he said.
Having comfortably taken a lead after the first two rounds, Sanjeet was left stunned in the ring following a 2-3 split decision verdict in favour of Ato Faoagali of Samoa Islands in the Men's 92 kg Round of 16 at the 2022 CWG.
After the heartbreaking loss, Sanjeet said he has worked on a flaw that used to cost him in the final round. "I have worked on my third-round game. Earlier, I used to slow down a bit but have improved on it."
Meanwhile, in other bouts of the day, Goa's Puspender Rathee (75kg), Mizoram's Malsawmitluanga (75kg), Haryana's Visit (80kg), Delhi's Rahul Rathi (80kg), Maharashtra's Anuj Kukrati (92kg) recorded wins. Among women, Madhya Pradesh's Radha Patidar (57kg), Gujarat's Minx Bhanushali (57kg), Chandigarh's Savita (57kg) and Manipur's Alena Thounaojam (66kg) advanced to the last eight stage. —ANI