Nikhat seeks trial bout against Mary Kom, Bindra backs demand

BFI plans to send bronze medallist Mary Kom for Olympic qualifiers though the initial proposal was only to give direct entry to gold and silver winners.

Asian championships bronze medal winning boxer Nikhat Zareen has written to Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju seeking a trial in women’s 51kg category for the Asian Olympic qualifying event to be held in Wuhan, China, in February.

Nikhat, a former World junior champion, cited two instances to highlight her plea.

“On August 6 and 7, I was invited to a trial in Delhi for the selection (of boxers) for the World championships. To my utter dismay, the trial was cancelled and Mary Kom was sent,” Nikhat wrote in the letter.

“After this decision, the BFI announced that gold and silver medallists from the World championships will be exempted from Olympic (qualifier) trials. Today, I have been reliably informed that the rule is now being changed to accommodate my senior, Mary Kom, without trial.”

 

On the first instance, following a request from Mary Kom, the BFI had decided to exempt the legendary boxer owing to her consistent performance in international events.

Lovlina Borgohain (69kg) was the other boxer who got an exemption.

In the latest episode, BFI president Ajay Singh reportedly said that, like men, all women World championships medalists would get direct entry to the Olympic qualifier.

However, the federation rule allowed the special concession only to the gold and silver winners.

Two Indians – Mary Kom (51kg) and Lovlina (69kg) – bagged bronze medals in Olympic weights, while two others – Manju Rani (48kg) and Jamuna Boro (54kg) – secured a silver and a bronze respectively in non-Olympic weights in the recently-concluded World championships in Ulan-Ude, Russia.

Twenty-three-year-old Nikhat, a self-proclaimed Mary Kom fan, underlined the importance of fair play. “Even Olympic gold medalists have to fight again to qualify to represent the country,” said Nikhat, who received support from different sportspersons on social media.

BFI executive director R.K. Sacheti said a decision would be taken after the return of the BFI president from the USA. “Right now the old rule stays. We will take a decision in about 10 days,” said Sacheti.

Bindra backs Zareen’s demand

India’s only individual Olympic gold medallist shooter Abhinav Bindra on Thursday backed Nikhat Zareen’s demand for a trial bout against celebrated boxer Mary Kom before India’s squad for next year’s Olympic Qualifiers is decided.

“While I have all the respect for Mary Kom, fact is, an athlete's life is an offering of proof. Proof that we can be as good as yesterday. Better than yesterday. Better than tomorrows man /woman. In sport, yesterday NEVER counts,” Bindra wrote on his twitter handle.

Both Bindra and Zareen are associated with JSW group in different capacities.