Left in the dark, Mary Kom hits out at official apathy

Mary had reached Patiala in advance to ensure she is well prepared; Trials were to begin at NIS on Saturday.

Written by Mihir Vasavda | Mumbai | Updated: August 9, 2014 1:12:43 pm
Mary insisted she expected fairness, not favour, from the judges and selection committee members. Mary insisted she expected fairness, not favour, from the judges and selection committee members.

Five-time world champion and London Olympics bronze medalist MC Mary Kom has said she feels ‘demotivated’ to compete for the country because of the lax attitude shown by the officials and also hinted at bias against her in selection process ‘because she was from the North East’.

Considered to be the pioneer of women’s boxing in India, Mary said she was determined to put the disappointment of missing out on the Glasgow Commonwealth Games behind her and was gearing up for next month’s Asian Games to be held in Incheon, South Korea, from September 19.

However, the 31-year-old mother of three said her frustration with the working of officialdom reached the tipping point after the ad-hoc committee that is governing boxing in India, unilaterally decided to indefinitely postpone the selection trials for the Asian Games on Friday.

Mary, who won bronze medal at the 2010 Asian Games, said she had reached Patiala for the trials a couple of days in advance to ensure she is well prepared. The trials were to begin at the National Institute of Sports on Saturday, but only on Friday afternoon were the boxers informed that it had been postponed without a new date being announced.

“I have made a lot of sacrifices and have been preparing for the Asian Games trials for past month, when we were informed about the dates. Then suddenly, we got information today that the trial is postponed,” Mary said.

“I am already in Patiala and I got a mail this (Friday) afternoon. I cannot understand what is happening. I, like others, was ready mentally and physically for the fight tomorrow but the last-minute changes impacts our preparations. They could have informed us two or three days ago,” she added.

Mary, who gave birth to her third child last year, has been striving to be fit to compete in the 51kg category. Mary said she had touched 75 kilograms on the weighing scale during pregnancy last year and post pregnancy, her weight dropped to 65kg.

She then had to undergo a surgery to remove gallstones last September before she finally returned to training full time.

Selection bias

The Manipuri had failed to make the cut for the Glasgow Games. Pinki Jangra of Haryana, her closest competitor in the 51kg category, had defeated her at the CWG trials held in Patiala in May. It had been Mary’s first competitive appearance in the ring for nearly two years.

The bout looked evenly poised till the end of the second round, but Pinki looked more aggressive of the two in the final round. It turned out to be a tough decision for the selectors, who finally declared Pinki as the winner after a long deliberation process lasting nearly 15 minutes. Furious with their decision, Mary said she decided to file a complaint against it immediately and also wished to call a press conference to express her unhappiness but ultimately decided against it.

“I am not from Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, no? I am from North East. May be that’s why there is this discrimination,” she said.

Fairness, not favours

Mary insisted she expected fairness, not favour, from the judges and selection committee members.

“Young boxers should be given a chance, there is no problem with that. But there has to be free and fair selection trials,” she said. “I have been receiving this kind of treatment from the federation officials and the ad-hoc body since a long time.”

Mary demanded that former boxers from the North-East be included in the selection committee and the representation in the referees panel also increases to ensure fair trials in the future. She said the manner in which the sport is governed has left her demotivated. However, she stressed she will continue to focus on preparations for the Asian Games.

“It does get demotivating at times, especially because you are working so hard. I have never complained before. But I have to ready for the Asian Games and I want things to be free and fair this time,” she said.

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