Manoj Kumar beat Ismetov Ayrin Smetov in the last-16 round of the AIBA World Qualifying Tournament on Tuesday to put himself one win away from qualifying for Rio 2016. Sumit Sangwan too won his bout to reach the quarter-finals of the event to come within touching distance of an Olympic berth.
Manoj got the better of Bulgaria's Ismetov Ayrin Smetov 2-1 in the 64kg category, making a comeback after losing the first round of his bout against his aggressive opponent. He will now face Tajikistan's Rakhimov Shavkatdzhon in the last-8, and a win will ensure a berth in the 2016 Olympics.
"Manoj endured a very tough bout but to his credit, he not just hung in there but also fought back brilliantly. His opponent was a very sharp puncher but he sustained a cut in the second round which slowed him down. Manoj took advantage of it and came back," national coach Gurbax Singh Sandhu told PTI after the match.
In the 81kg category, Sumit Sangwan breezed past Sandagsuren Erdenebayar of Mongolia 3-0 to book a quarter-final bout against Petr Khamukov of Russia. Sangwan also needs to win that bout to guarantee a spot in Rio. "Sumit fought with a lot of calmness. He applied his brain and made sure that he never got too close to his opponent. It was a very dominating performance by him," Sandhu said about the bout to PTI.
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