The young boxer will be looking to impress in his first appearance at the Commonwealth Games.

All eyes of the sporting world are on Birmingham as the 2022 Commonwealth Games begin in a week’s time. The 12-day sporting event will feature more than 4,000 athletes representing all 72 Commonwealth nations. These athletes will compete in 280 events across 20 sporting disciplines. The Indian contingent at the 2022 Commonwealth Games will consist of 215 athletes, the same number as the 2018 edition.

But it is expected of the Indians to improve their 2018 tally of 66 medals. Among those athletes will be Sumit Kundu. The 20-year-old has sparkled on the boxing stage since coming on. Currently, he is the youngest boxer in the Indian contingent for the Commonwealth Games.

Featuring in his first major sporting event, the boxer will be looking to put his best foot forward. Ahead of the Commonwealth Games, the young boxer spoke to Khel Now regarding his preparation, expectations and his personal experience.

Preparation for the Commonwealth Games

Sumit Kundu and the other boxers have been putting in the hard yards ahead of a challenging edition of the Commonwealth Games. When asked about the same, he replied, “The preparation has been very good. We had already worked hard in India and now we are here in Ireland. We were told to come to Ireland earlier so that we can acclimatise to the weather conditions out here. It can have an effect on the preparation. Hence we arrived early.”

“The training was a little more intensive earlier. But now over the past few days, we have been doing light training to reduce the load on the body. The focus is more on speed training at the moment,” the boxer added.

The impact of the Khelo India Youth Games

Despite his young age, Sumit Kundu is not a man unknown of success. The boxing starlet is a two-time gold medallist at the Khelo India Youth Games including the previous edition. Notably, he went on to win gold in the 2022 Thailand Open in the 75kg category. The 20-year-old is among many young talents who add to the sporting strength of the country.

Events like the Khelo India Youth Games have provided youngsters like Kundu a platform to gain success early. It has also aided massively in their development towards becoming better athletes. Kundu too, affirmed the impact of such tournaments on unearthing young talent and developing them across the nation.

“The facilities have been developed a lot for athletes who participate in Khelo India Youth Games. SAI (Sports Authority of India) has opened a lot of training centres in places like Rohtak and Aurangabad. Through the Khelo India scheme, athletes are getting a good diet which is very essential for any athlete. They are also able to earn and get all the required facilities at SAI itself through the Khelo India Youth Games,” the boxer responded.

Kundu further added, “For promising athletes, they are trained and sent on tours as well. It adds to their experience and exposure. Therefore, the impact has definitely been positive since the Khelo India Youth Games have started.”

Handling pressure

Like all other athletes, there would be a decent amount of expectations from young Sumit Kundu to bring laurels for his country. Despite his great feats in his young career, including defeating the defending silver medallist in the world championships earlier this year, it can be overwhelming though considering the Commonwealth Games would be a massive step.

But Kundu spoke with an assured sense of calm and maturity when asked about feeling the pressure ahead of the sporting event. “When I was young and competing in the juniors, back then I always used to feel like that (the pressure) to perform and win. But here I am the youngest in the boxing team. I do not feel pressure to win or lose. Those are always part of life. For me right now, I want to give my best and put on a show. If I do, the rest will follow,” the boxer added emphatically.

Getting into the boxing fold

When asked about the story behind his entry into boxing, Kundu quipped, “I never had a born intention of becoming a boxer. I actually used to see my friends go to do boxing and I tagged along with them. Once I got there, I got to learn the game and worked on myself. I won a bronze medal in the state championships and I felt good about it.”

The boxer further added “Then after a while, I felt that this is not enough and I wanted to win a silver or gold medal. After winning a silver medal I felt that I need to win a gold medal now. So the hunger kept growing and it is what has kept me going and brought me till here.”

Hopefully, the hunger that has brought him here takes him to the top to bring more laurels to India.

For more updates, follow Khel Now on TwitterInstagram and Facebook.