New Delhi. August 31: Will Wildcard entrant Gaurav Bidhuri get India a silver or a gold medal at the World Boxing Championships on Thursday. After rest on Wednesday, Bidhuri faces American Duke Ragan in the semifinals. He is fourth Indian boxer ever to secure himself a medal in the World Championships after he defeated Tunisia's Bilel Mhamdi to enter the semifinals of the mega-event.
Gaurav prevailed in a split decision in the bantamweight (56kg) quarterfinal contest to make the last-four stage, becoming the second from the country to do so in his debut world championship. The only other Indian to have achieved the feat was Vikas Krishan, in the 2011 edition.
"It is so so surreal. I was a wildcard entry and now I am a medallist. Everything has happened so quickly for me, my brain will take some time to process all this," Gaurav told PTI after his triumph.
Besides Vikas, Vijender Singh (2009) and Shiva Thapa (2015) have been the country's only other medallists at the marquee event of the sport. But they have all settled for bronze medals and it remains to be seen if Gaurav can better them on that.
"I am going to create bigger history now by winning a better medal than bronze. I have been dealing with a back problem for the last eight months, (but) somehow kept going and finally I have been rewarded, it is just so overwhelming right now," said the boxer.
It has been nothing short of a rollercoaster ride for Gaurav, who hadn't even qualified for the tournament to start with. Ousted in the Asian Championships quarterfinal stage, Gaurav had also gone on to lose the box-off for a world championship spot.
It was a stroke of good luck that he ended up being handed the wildcard that was originally meant for Bhutan. The Asian Boxing Confederation (ASBC) gave the lucky entry to Gaurav after Bhutan declined the offer.
The 24-year-old was with the rest of the Indian team on a training-cum-competition trip to France and Czech Republic when he got the news and could hardly believe his luck at that time.