New Delhi, Feb 3 : Brash and confident after defeating several higher-rated opponents at the inaugural India Open boxing tournament, Dinesh Dagar now has just one goal -- winning gold at the Olympics and World Championships.
Competing in his first tournament at the senior international level, the 22-year-old was a member of the India D squad.
The India A and B squads contained the elite boxers of the country while the juniors and not-so-experienced ones were included in the C and D squads.
Dinesh went on to create quite a splash, stunning 2013 World Championships silver medallist Arisnoidys Despaigne of Cuba in the quarter-finals before beating Indian veteran Manoj Kumar in the semis.
However, a cut above his left eye saw him lose the men's welterweight (69 kilogram) gold to BoBo Usmon Baturov of Uzbekistan, but not before putting up a brave fight in the final.
"I was under no pressure as I am only just emerging from the junior ranks.
I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. I was in the India D squad, I can't go lower than that, can I," Dinesh told IANS.
"I knew I was good enough to win the gold medal.
So I fought without any pressure. I picked up an injury, otherwise no one could have stopped me from being the champion," he added.
Dinesh is undoubtedly one of the finds of the tournament for India, which finished as the top nation with seven gold medals.
The victory over Despaigne was especially sweet for Dinesh, who is now looking forward to winning gold at the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games later this year.
"I got a lot of confidence from the India Open.
Beating the World Championships silver medallist is the biggest highlight of my career so far. Cubans are among the top boxing nations; so it was a good learning experience for me," Dinesh said.
"I want to tell Manoj and the other senior Indian boxers in my weight category that their time is up.
It's now time for youth to show their mettle. I respect them as seniors, but I will show no mercy during the trials," he asserted.
The Haryana lad, who took up boxing in 2010 after being inspired by Indian wrestling icon Sushil Kumar, is currently training hard at the National Institute of Sports (NIS) in Patiala.
"I want to win gold at the 2020 Olympics.
If I train hard, no one can stop me from achieving my dreams," Dinesh said.
(Ajeyo Basu can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)