‘Who is she, I don’t know her’: Mary Kom slams Nikhat Zareen on Olympics selection controversy
As the controversy over Nikhat Zareen demanding a trial against Mary Kom for Olympics 2020 selection boils over, the 2012 Olympics bronze medal winning boxer lashed out on the former for her actions. In an interview to Republic TV, Mary Kom said: “Who is Nikhat Zareen,I don’t know her.” She further added that she is shocked by the controversy. “I am really shocked by all this. I have won eight World Championship medals, including six gold. Let the Boxing Federation of India decide whom they want. How can she cry like this? She cannot lobby to get a place in the Indian team. This is not done,” she said.
Zareen on Thursday had written to sports minister Kiren Rijiju and requested him to look into the issue of Boxing Federation of India (BFI) tweaking its selection rules and deciding to not hold selection trials in 51kg for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics qualification event. The BFI had initially said that among women only gold and silver medallists from the Worlds will get an automatic berth for the Olympics qualifier in February. But later BFI president Ajay Singh said the selection panel should consider exempting bronze medallists, including Mary Kom in 51kg, from trials.
“Sir, I have reliable informed that the rule is now being changed again to accommodate Mary Kom as the Indian candidate without a trial. I look for no favours. Just fair play. And whether Mary Kom or I or any other boxer qualifies after the trial, we can at least sleep at night knowing that every candidate got the best possible opportunity to make India proud at the Olympics (sic),” The Asian Championships bronze medal winning boxer Zareen had written in a letter.
The Union Minister, in response to the letter wrote: “I’ll surely convey to Boxing Federation to take the best decision keeping in mind the best interest of the NATION, SPORTS & ATHLETES. Although, Minister should not be involved in the selection of the players by the Sports Federations which are autonomous as per OLYMPIC CHARTER.”
Zareen had been refused a trial bout before the world championship as well after the federation decided to pick Mary Kom on the basis of her gold-winning performances in the India Open and the President’s Cup. The BFI introduced a point-based selection system last year under which boxers are now being picked on the back of their performances in various graded tournaments and the national camps.
Trial bouts, a norm earlier, are being conducted only in those weight categories in which the coaches and selectors find the competition to be exceptionally close. Zareen had found the support of India’s only individual Olympic gold-medallist and iconic shooter Abhinav Bindra.
“Bindra is an Olympic gold medallist but I too have multiple golds at World Championships. This is not his business, to involve in boxing, to interfere. I don’t talk about shooting, so it is better for him to stay quiet on boxing. He doesn’t know the exact rules of boxing,” Mary Kom told news agency PTI.
She added, “He doesn’t know anything about boxing. It is better to be quiet. I don’t think Abhinav would also go for trials before every shooting tournament.” Earlier, former junior world champion boxer Zareen, who was refused a trial by the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) for the World Championships, had written to Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju, demanding a “fair chance” to make it to the team for the Olympic qualifiers to be held in February next year.
(With agency inputs)