About 12 years ago, a young boxer from Haryana wrote his name in the history books of Indian sport after winning the country's maiden Olympic medal in boxing. Vijender Singh's bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics changed the face of Indian boxing and inspired many to take up the sport.
However, while talking during India's rising table tennis player Mudit Dani's online lockdown live chat show 'In The Sportlight', Vijender revealed how watching his fellow countryman Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore finishing on the podium at the 2004 Olympic Games inspired him and made him hungry for the metal. Shooter Rathore clinched India's first-ever Olympic medal in an individual category when he won silver in Athens where Vijender had appeared in his first Olympics at the age of 18.
"It's an amazing feeling to represent your country at the Olympics and for me 2004 was a lot like that as I was happy and satisfied being present there, witnessing the opening ceremony and watching the contingents from other countries; inspecting the villages and enjoying the food and atmosphere. But it was only when I saw the medal ceremony and saw Rajyavardhan Sing Rathore winning the silver medal is when the urge of winning a medal hit me too and the realisation that more than participation, it's winning the medal that matters," Vijender said.
"After winning that medal, the adulation he got from everywhere only convinced me to work harder and then four years later, despite a tough qualification, I managed to win that medal and everything changed for me. Since then there has been no looking back," he added.
The 34-year-old Vijender, who turned professional in 2015, is hopeful of sporting action resuming soon, which has halted due to COVID-19 pandemic. However he's enjoying spending time with his two kids at home which seems impossible normally due to a busy schedule.
"I enjoy spending time with my kids. I'm watching web series, movies and listening to Punjabi songs as there is nothing much to do. I'm hopeful of getting back in the ring in the next two-three months," said the Asian Games gold medallist.
After having tasted great success on the professional circuit, Vijender is now aiming to win the world championship title.