A day before they were scheduled to take place, the trials to select the Indian boxing squad for the Asian Games were postponed. The Ad-hoc Committee on Boxing appointed by the Indian Olympic Association that holds the trials issued a release stating the same. “Selection Trials scheduled from August 09-11, 2014 for selection Elite (Senior) Men/Women Boxing teams for forthcoming Incheon Asian Games-2014 have been postponed due to request received from medal winner Boxers of Glasgow Commonwealth Games,” the release read.
The ad-hoc committee’s reasoning that they had taken the decision based on a request by the medal winning boxers from the Commonwealth Games has some logic considering several of the boxers who took part at the Commonwealth Games were carrying injuries and niggles, and needed a couple of weeks rest.”
“We sat down with the coaches and we were of the opinion that we needed to keep a few weeks gap for the boxers who had just returned from the commonwealth Games. We spoke to the SAI DG Jiji Thomson and he too was in agreement with us,” said Tarlochan Singh, chairman of the ad-hoc committee.
However, the decision to push back the dates for the trials clearly came as a surprise to the would-be participants. A CWG medal winner, on condition of anonymity, said though there had been an informal request to delay the trials, until Thursday night most boxers were under the impression that they would be boxing for a spot on the team on Friday and had been cutting their weight accordingly. Mary Kom, who was hoping to regain her spot in the women’s 51kg category, had already arrived in Patiala. The remaining women boxers had infact left from Delhi for Patiala on the team bus but were forced to return to their hostel soon after.
The Asian Games Federation has a deadline of August 15 for receiving team lists. Any future trials are unlikely to be held by then. Singh however, says the committee has worked a way within the rules. “Our tentative plan is to hold the trials in the third week of August. We understand that the deadline for the Asian Games Federation receiving the team list for the boxing squad is the 15th of August. So, we will send them a tentative list with a couple of names in the weight divisions and send the final list after the trials,” he said.
However what this essentially means is that the trials, when they take place, will be reduced to a contest between two top-rated boxers in each category.
‘Not connected to AIBA deadline’
The change of dates for the selection trials is not the only uncertainty Indian boxers face. A day ago, AIBA spokesperson had been quoted as saying that “the participation of Indian boxers is not guaranteed”, for next month’s Asian Games. The statement came as Boxing India (the provisionally recognised federation) failed to meet an AIBA deadline to elect its board before August 15. Boxing India has since announced that they will conduct fresh elections on September 11 after being directed by the world governing body AIBA.
According to Singh however, the wranglings of Boxing India had nothing to do with the selection of the Asian Games squad. “That has nothing to do with us. Our job is simply to select a squad for the Asian Games not to worry about whether Boxing India holds its elections or not. As of now, we will be sending a squad for the Asian Games,” he said.