The medal count stayed at one bronze but India boxing coach Santiago Nieva feels there were several positives to be picked from their campaign at the 19th World Championship in which a powerhouse like China failed to secure a single podium finish.
Gaurav Bidhuri (56kg) was the lone Indian medallist to win a medal, joining Vijender Singh (2009), Vikas Krishan (2011) and Shiva Thapa (2015), in the overall list. As an improvement, India had three boxers in the quarterfinals, tied with the likes of Russia and Ukraine on that count.
In fact, India were tied with fairly successful boxing nations such as England, Ireland, South Korea and Mongolia among others, in having just one semifinalist at the showpiece event.
“I am satisfied to an extent but not what you can say, completely satisfied. We planned a few things going into the tournament. Some of them were executed well, some were not and now we will have to ensure that we implement 100 per cent of what we plan,” Nieva told PTI, giving his assessment of India’s performance here.
“We have got one medal, we wanted more but then some of the big countries like China did not get even a single medal, so that should be some perspective,” he said.
Nieva took over as India’s foreign coach in April and this was his first major assignment with the team.
The Swede said he has figured out a few changes that would need to be made to the team’s training methods and they would be set in motion once the national camp resumes.
“We achieved the one goal of winning a medal, obviously we would have liked to have at least one more but there is partial relief about having one medal and three quarter- finalists.
“Given our stature in international boxing, it would have been terrible not to win any medals. I am quite happy with the improvements we have made but yes, there are things that need to be addressed which we will do in the coming months,” he said.
Speaking on the campaign here, Nieva refused to blame the couple of close losses that the team endured for the lesser medal count. The only setback he attributed to the luck factor was 2015 bronze-medallist Shiva not being able to compete at the event due to food poisoning and fever on the day of his opening bout.
“I don’t want to blame anything on close losses because we also won some close bouts ourselves. So it cuts both ways.
“But Shiva was a massive, massive blow for us. He was in tremendous form and looked good for a medal and his was truly a case of bad luck. He could have been our second medallist here,” he said, referring to the 24-year-old’s Asian Championships silver medal earlier this year.
Asked to reflect on his tenure so far, Nieva said he has enjoyed the challenge.
“It’s been a great ride for me so far personally. With the support of the Indian coaches who are working with me, it has been quite fruitful.
“I look forward to the Commonwealth Games where I hope that the results will be even better because the process we have started would have, by then, taken the sufficient time to get the desired outcome,” he said.