Thursday, September 28, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Gurcharan loses in tie-break

SYDNEY, Sept 27 (UNI) — Luck played a cruel joke with India at the Olympic ring today. Pugilist Gurcharan Singh was just five seconds away from a historic boxing medal but fate willed otherwise.

In a bout which could have gone either way, Gurcharan lost to Ukraine’s Andri Fedtchouk in the light heavyweight (81 kg) category quarterfinal in a tie-break 42-60 after the four mandatory rounds left the score at 12-12.

The Indian pugilist slugged it out through the four rounds toe-to-toe only to lose 12 (42) - 12 (60) at the end. Had he won the bout, he would have assured himself at least a bronze and ended India’s medal drought in Olympic boxing.

As the match ended in a tie, it went to jury countback and the verdict left Gurcharan in despair. The scores of three judges were averaged after striking off the scores of the judges who gave the highest and lowest points and Andri was found winner at 60-42.

At the Darling Harbour Convention Centre, the two boxers traded blows on an equal footing to be 4-4 after the second round and 7-7 at the end of the third. They were level 9-9 with a minute remaining and Singh managed to land a punch for an 11-10 advantage with just 14 seconds left.

Just one punch, a straight right, from the southpaw Ukrainian five seconds from the bell equalled the scores at 12-12 and that sealed the fate of Gurcharan, India’s last hope for medal at the 27th Olympiad.

Nevertheless, it was a brave showing by the 23-year-old Indian in his second Olympic appearance. “In such a bout, there is virtually nothing to separate the two,’’ said Ashok Kumar Mattoo, President of the Indian Amateur Boxing Federation, and also the chef-de-mission.

Gurcharan was in agony and said,’’ God is against me.’’ National coach, Gurbax Sandhu, found it difficult to console the pugilist.

In fact so close was the fight that at no stage either boxer had a lead of more than one point. Fedtchouk managed the only scoring punch in the first round, but in the next round, as the fight warmed up, Gurcharan managed to pull that one point advantage to take the second round at 4-3. That brought the overall score to 4-4.

Gurcharan (6’3’’), a little taller than Fedtchouk, did manage to lure him by opening his guard. It got Gurcharan points, but the Ukrainian countered immediately to get back the point. In the third round, Gurcharan for the first time led twice at 5-4 and then 6-5.

As the razor-sharp clash continued, each of the boxers tried for whatever edge he could. If Fedtchouk got a point, Gurcharan pulled it back almost immediately. The Ukrainian went 8-7 up and then 9-8, but on both occasions, Gurcharan put himself on an even keel. The sequence was repeated till 10-10 and then suddenly Gurcharan went 11-10 up with 16 seconds to go, only to see Fedtchouk draw level yet again.

And then again with eight seconds to go, as the huge Indian crowd was on its feet anticipating a victory that would ensure their country a second medal, Gurcharan went up once more to 12-11. But with virtually the last clear punch thrown in the bout, Fedtchouk levelled yet again.

There was a stony silence among the large number of Indians as the two boxers at 12-12 waited for the final decision.

As the referee announced “winner is the red corner’’, Gurcharan sank on the floor and rolled over the carpet in disappointment.

“It is tough on any boxer who has to lose in such a situation,’’ said Kishen Narsi, the only Indian Referee-Judge to have officiated in three Olympics. “When the scores are same at the end of the bout, the total number of punches, recorded as points and otherwise, are taken into account to arrive at a decision,’’ explained Narsi.

The points system in Olympic boxing which has often been a subject of debate now demands that at least three of the five judges press a button within one second of each other for a punch to be recorded. This reduces chances of judges being influenced by each other during that short time. If less than three judges press a button or if the time difference between the judges pressing it is more than one second, the punch is not recorded as a point.

The points given to a boxer, are actually punches recorded. In the event of a tie, the total scoresheets are checked and even the punches thrown, but nor recorded, are also taken into account. That’s where the Ukrainian snatched the medal away from Gurcharan Singh. 

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