Sanjeet Kumar’s heavy mental, physical activity behind Asian Championships gold
Express News Service
CHENNAI: The adrenaline rush has been palpable for Sanjeet Kumar in the last few days or so. Something that has led to irregular sleep pattern for the Haryana boxer. But he is not complaining as this brief discomfort has reaped a major landmark — an Asian Championships gold — in his nascent career at the elite level. Having landed in India after the continental event, the winning feeling is gradually sinking in for the Haryana boxer, who was the lone male boxer to grab the yellow metal on the last day (Monday). “If I have to be honest, until yesterday (Tuesday), I haven’t had proper sleep in the last few days. I feel it happens with a lot of us,” the 24-year-old says.
Being a relatively new face in the senior international circuit, the heavyweight ( 91 kg) is still picking up the fine nuances of the sport. That intense learning has naturally had its side effect as he tries to cope and become mentally stronger. In Dubai, it was no different as he was trying to soak in the pressure and constantly battling with himself (in his mind) and taking down opponents one step at a time.
“There’s both fear and excitement in my case. I want to enter the ring as soon as possible. I feel the nine-minute bout itself is not tough but just before the bout is very tough. I feel if you are mentally tough, you can cope well,” the Army boxer opines.
“A lot is running in your mind when you are warming up just before the bout, trying to take last-minute mental notes on how to beat your opponent on the day,” he adds.
On the final day, he had shocked the 2016 Rio Olympics silver medallist Vassiliy Levit of Kazakhstan. The whole journey has naturally added to his confidence. “It was a great experience. To beat Olympic and Worlds Championships medallist gives you a big boost. This performance should help me in the future.”
What makes this more special for Sanjeet is that the Indian camp had suffered multiple hurdles to enter the event. Many had tested positive for coronavirus which had affected their training. Sanjeet revealed that he had also contracted the virus not so long ago and was in a bad shape. “I contracted coronavirus a couple of months back. I was really struggling for 10 to 15 days. And we were unsure if the event would happen or not for some time and then unsure if we’ll be part of it. The sport has suffered a lot due to the pandemic and towards the end, we were relying on prayers to participate.”
Moreover, this achievement means a lot for his father and brother, who supported him early on. “He (father) had tears of joy,” Sanjeet says. Apart from his family, it was after joining the Army where he managed to gain traction. “I was not actually aware of the talent that I had. My brother used to tell me that I have a lot of spark in me. After joining the Army, the coaches and officials also pushed me a lot. They supported me a great deal,” Sanjeet, who joined the Army in 2015, says.
But it was in 2017 where he got his big break, earning a spot in the national camp, training with some of India’s best. “Having met/sparred with some quality internationals, it was a given that I could only improve. I knew if I work hard and compete with some of the best in the business, I’ll become a better athlete.”
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