In sharp contrast to the allegations of sexually harassment levelled against weightlifting coach Ramesh Malhotra by Olympic bronze medallist Karnam Malleswari, all the 16 women in the Commonwealth Games core group, training at NIS Patiala, have come out in favour of the coach.
The campers have written a letter to the president of the Indian Weightlifting Federation (IWF) supporting Malhotra and requesting the federation to reinstate him as coach, as his absence would affect their performance at the Games.
The WFI has suspended Malhotra from the national camp after Malleswari made the allegations, and even formed a three-member committee to investigate.
“Ramesh Malhotra was our coach-in-charge during our camps at Pune, Shilaroo and ongoing camp at Patiala and he was training us well. He has never misbehaved with any of us and we have not found anything wrong with in his behaviour. He was a father-figure and treated us like his own children,” reads the letter that has been signed by all the 16 team members.
“As Mr Ramesh Malhotra has been suspended by IWF, for reasons know to the federation, the morale of the team has been affected and this will certainly affect the performance of the women’s team in the Commonwealth Games. We request you to call Ramesh Malhotra back to the national camp.”
Malleswari had earlier alleged that the coach had been targetting junior women lifters for more than a decade, despite which the federation had recommended him for the Dronacharya award twice.
A federation official confirmed receipt of the letter from the lifters, and said it would be forwarded to the sports ministry on Wednesday.