CWG 2018 | Boxing coach Santiago Nieva defends new selection system

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CWG 2018 | Boxing coach Santiago Nieva defends new selection system

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SportsCafe Desk


Indian boxing high-performance director Santiago Nieva has backed the new selection criteria for the Commonwealth Games in which conventional trial methods were not used. He has also stated that a bit of nervous energy is also important for bringing the best out of the athletes.

Generally, a trial is organized for all the boxers so as to select the best of them for the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games, but this time the Boxing Federation of India didn't do that. Instead, they decided to establish a point system and boxers for six out of the eight men's weight categories for the Games were picked by the same formula. The new procedure attracted a lot of criticism and some boxers also questioned the fairness of the process. However, Nieva, earlier who was roped in as the coach for the male boxers, defended the idea.

"The selection method we have followed will continue in the sense that the boxers will continue to be graded on the basis of their performances but wherever there is a need for a trial, we will conduct it. There is no definitive call on that," he told PTI.

"But yes, anybody who wins a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games can consider himself a strong contender for the Asian Games. Of course, it is subject to the boxer being fit and in form, which will be evaluated in the tournaments after the CWG.

"Anybody who can challenge that boxer and prove himself to be as good if not better, he will get a chance too."

Due to the new process in the selection, the likes of World Bronze medalist Gaurav Bidhuri and three-time Asian medalist Shiva Thapa couldn't qualify for the prestigious event which led to them criticising the new rule. India's first and only Olympics medalist in boxing, Vijender Singh also opposed the idea. 

"I can understand the disappointments. Obviously, when you are not selected, it feels bad. I know that because I have been a boxer. I know how much it can hurt but the challenge lies in picking yourself up and giving it your best shot the next time.

"You cannot be bogged down by one disappointment. That's not what a fighter does. One success or one failure does not define a fighter.

"I am of the view that performances over a period of time ought to be rewarded and one trial should not form the basis of selection," he said

In the last edition of the Commonwealth Games, Indian boxers had claimed four silvers and one bronze medal. While the last time, the team was more experienced, this time, the team is slightly inexperienced which may result in making them nervous in the tournament. However, the 43-year-old coach stated that the nervous energy will bring the best out of the boxers.

"Yeah, it's going to be my CWG debut. I have been at the Pan-American Games (while competing and later managing Argentina), the Olympics and now the Commonwealth Games which will be followed by the Asian Games. I will have covered everything this year," Nieva said.

"I prefer to be a tiny bit nervous before such events because that helps in pulling the best out of not just yourself but also others. So, yeah, I would rather be a little nervous than too confident."

The Commonwealth Games is scheduled to start on April 4 at Gold Coast, Australia.

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