Nikhat Zareen, the 23-year-old Indian pugilist who competes in the 51kg category, has written to the Boxing Federation of India (BFI), expressing dismay at their decision of not allowing her a trial against six-time world champion Mary Kom for entry into the Tokyo Olympics Qualifiers.
In a letter written to the Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju, Zareen alleges that the BFI had earlier mandated that only the gold and silver medallists at the recently concluded Women's World Boxing Championships would be allowed to advance to the Tokyo Olympics Qualifiers — to be held in Wuhan from 3-14 February 2020 — without a trial.
All I want is a fair chance.If I'm not given the opporunity to compete what am I training for. Sports is about FairPlay & I dont want to loose faith in my country.Jai Hind @KirenRijiju @RijijuOffice #AjaySingh @Media_SAI @DGSAI @BFI_official @kishanreddybjp @PMOIndia #TopsAthlete pic.twitter.com/t1ie62tMJy
— Nikhat Zareen (@nikhat_zareen) October 17, 2019
However, after Mary Kom bowed out of the world championships in the semifinals with a bronze medal, Zareen now claims the rules were tweaked again to facilitate Kom's direct entry into the Olympics Qualifiers. Zareen wants to have a trial against Mary Kom, who fights in the same weight class as her, and the winner of their bout should be allowed to advance to Wuhan.
Zareen had earlier been denied a trial against Mary Kom, with the latter gaining the quota entry for the Women's World Boxing Championships in Ulan-Ude Russia. Kom went on to win the bronze medal, her eighth podium finish at the World Championships.
In her letter, which Zareen also posted on her Twitter account, she says that she asks for no favours but "fair play". She details her achievements which include gold medals at the Women's Junior and Youth World Boxing Championships in 2011, and most recently, a victory over the current world champion in her category at an AIBA event held in Belgrade in 2018.
After detailing how the BFI has now, twice cancelled her trial in the 51kg category against Mary Kom to facilitate the latter's direct entry in world competitions, Zareen writes: "I have been inspired by Mary Kom since I was a teenager. The best way I can do justice to that inspiration is to strive to be as great a boxer as her."
"Mary Kom is too big a legend to hide from the competition and not actually defend her Olympic qualification."
To further buttress her stance, Zareen cites the example of US Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps: "After all, if the 23 times gold medallist Michael Phelps had to requalify every time for the Olympics, the rest of us must do the same."
Mary Kom has maintained that she would follow the BFI guidelines on selection trials and will compete if asked by the federation.
The sports ministry is not entitled to intervene in selection matters of any national federation unless requested by the parent international body as any such unilateral move is considered a violation of the Olympic Charter.
Zareen summed up her letter saying that no matter who qualifies for the Tokyo Olympics, a proper trial would ensure that each of them can "sleep at night knowing that every one of the candidates got the best possible opportunity to make India proud at the Olympics."
With inputs from PTI
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Updated Date: Oct 17, 2019 15:45:46 IST