Mary Kom selected, Nikhat Zareen not allowed to compete in trials for World C'ships

The 36-year-old Mary Kom, who has already claimed two gold medals this year (India Open and a recent tournament in Indonesia), has been selected in the 51kg category with Nikhat Zareen claiming that she was stopped from competing in the trials.

Mary Kom (blue) in action against Nikhat Zareen in the semifinal of the Fly (51kg) category at the India Open in May this year.   -  Ritu Raj Konwar

The last-minute cancellation of World women’s championships selection trials in Delhi for 51kg by the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) has left Asian championships bronze medal-winning boxer Nikhat Zareen helpless.

As per the schedule on Tuesday, Nikhat was pitted against Vanlalduati in the first bout. The winner of the bout was supposed to fight six-time World champion M.C. Mary Kom. However, it was not held on Tuesday.

Nikhat complained to selection committee working chairman Rajesh Bhandari that she was “surprised” that her name and weight category were missing despite the “assurance” that her bout for Worlds trials would be held on Wednesday.

“I request (sic) an urgent explanation as to what is the final decision in this regard. In the morning, I had gone to give my weight but our head coach Ali Qamar Sir told me that it’s not required as I had already given my weight yesterday morning.”

Bhandari said, “The BFI decided to select Mary Kom (switched from 48kg to 51kg) based on her past performances.”

A BFI source threw more light. “In the light of the expression stated by Mary Kom for not taking the trials due to her continuous high-level performances in the last few months, the selection committee of BFI, after deliberations, has come to the conclusion that the Manipur pugilist will be exempted from the trials and will get direct entry into the Indian squad for the World championships.

"Her consistency in a new weight category and gold medal-winning efforts at the Round Robin Cup in Germany, India Open and the President’s Cup in Indonesia, where she was able to outshine all her challengers in the 51kg category, were considered by the selection committee to arrive at the decision,” said the source.

“The selection committee has decided to exempt Worlds bronze medalist Lovlina Borgohain from the trials after carefully considering her consistent performances in 69kg and also because of the difference of standard compared to her opponent at the trials. With a gold medal from the Umakhanov Memorial and a silver from the India Open, the Assam boxer has justified that she deserves a direct entry into the Indian squad on her merit,” added the source.