Nikhat continues fight for trials

With three spots already sealed for the Olympic trials, Nikhat’s chances of securing the fourth and final place depended on how she fares in the IBL bout against Mary Kom on Tuesday but now with the fight not happening she has demanded a fair decision from the Boxing Federation of India (BFI).
Indian Women Boxer Nikhat Zareen, during the practice session for Asian Games.(Raj K Raj/HT PHOTO)
Indian Women Boxer Nikhat Zareen, during the practice session for Asian Games.(Raj K Raj/HT PHOTO)
Updated on Dec 17, 2019 11:59 PM IST
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New Delhi | ByHT Correspondent

Nikhat Zareen, one of the country’s top boxers in the 51kg Olympic category, is still not a certainty for the trials for the Tokyo 2020 qualification tournament. Zareen, 23, has been at loggerheads with the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) seeking trials in the 51kg category, where MC Mary Kom was preferred over her for the world championships.

Zareen said she has “doubts” over whether she will be selected for the upcoming trials to be held here on December 27-28.

Zareen spoke to the media at the sidelines of the ongoing Big Bout League, where she was scheduled to fight Kom on Tuesday before the six-time world champion pulled out citing back pain.

As per the selection criteria of the BFI for the first Olympic qualifier, the trials will be held between the participant at the world championship, the gold and silver medallists at the National Championships, and a top boxer picked by the coaches and the selection committee.

Kom, who won a bronze medal at the world championships at Ulan-Ude, Russia, in October, meets the first criteria. Jyoti Gulia and Ritu Grewal are the gold and silver medallists in 51kg at the National Championships in December. The fourth boxer, the BFI announced will be picked on December 21.

Zareen alleged that she was not told of the criteria for the qualifier, and was ordered to fight in the Big Bout instead of the national championships, the dates of which clashed.

“I did not play the Nationals because BFI wanted me to play in the league.

“ I raised a question with one of the coaches that on what basis will I be picked for the trials? They said they will get back,” Zareen said. “I got a mail from Jay Kowli (BFI secretary) after the world championships where my name and Mary Kom’s name was clearly mentioned for the trials.”

Kowli responded by saying that the letter Zareen is referring to clearly stated the current selection policy for the qualifier, and did not mention her name.

“How can I have given a name three months before the trials?” Kowli said. “I sent the selection criteria, and both boxers agreed to it.”

Zareen has had a breakthrough year, winning a bronze at the Asian Championships, and losing only to Kom at the semi-finals of the India Open in a closely fought bout.

BFI issued a statement saying that the “rankings of the national camp of September and the tournaments thereafter will be taken into consideration” to pick the fourth boxer.

Going by these parameters, Zareen should be part of the trials. The BFI provided a copy of the national camp rankings, in which Zareen is ranked second behind Kom. She has also won all four of her bouts at the ongoing league, including against Colombia’s Ingrit Valencia, the Rio Olympics bronze medallist.

“I should get the fourth spot but tell me clearly in advance before the trials on Dec 27 so that I can completely focus on that,” Zareen said.

“If you are creating so much of confusion, of course I will feel disturbed.”

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