Asian Games: Selection trouble; Bronze is better than silver

Asian Championship bronze medallists Ekta Yadav and Shaila Charls were preferred for the Asian Games over silver medallists Varsha Gautham and her crew Sweta Shervegar in a move that goes against YAI's own selection policy,

Varsha Gautham: "We put in all our efforts and money into participating in the Asian Sailing Championship, as it was supposed to be the nomination event for the Asian Games." (File Picture)   -  G. Ramakrishna

Which team has a better chance of winning a medal in the Asian Games, the silver or bronze medallists of the Asian Championship?

It is not a difficult question to answer, but the silver medallists of the Asian Championship in Jakarta on June 25, Varsha Gautham and her crew Sweta Shervegar, are unable to swallow the ignominy of being ignored for the Asian Games to be held in Jakarta in September.

While the Yachting Association of India (YAI) had gone ahead selecting the other team which had won the selection regatta in Chennai  and eventually clinched the third place in the Asian Championship, the 20-year-old Varsha, who had bagged the bronze medal in the Asian Games in Incheon, in 2014, is pleading for justice.

She has a valid ground to argue her case, as the YAI has not stuck to its own selection policy, which states, ‘’The results of Indian athletes/teams at the Asian Sailing Championship will be provided to the internal and external selectors so as to select the best athletes/teams to represent India at the Asian Games’’.

In its defence, the YAI has put a clause which reads, "YAI reserves the sole right to interpret this document and to use its discretion in the resolution of the matter in conflict or dispute’’.

For the first time, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) has set criteria of top-six finish for individuals and top-8 placings for teams in Asian championships to enhance their chances of being allowed to compete in the Asian Games. The main goal is to have the best possible medal chances.

By sidelining  the silver medallists and selecting the bronze medallists in Asian Championship, Ekta Yadav and Shaila Charls, much against its own policy, the YAI has only opened fresh avenues for the aggrieved party to knock the doors of the judiciary, the Union Sports Ministry and the Sports Authority of India (SAI) to seek justice.

"We put in all our efforts and money into participating in the Asian Sailing Championship, as it was supposed to be the nomination event for the Asian Games.

"We paid for our own flights and even had to transport the boat ourselves because the federation didn’t give us enough notice to load the boat in their container.

"Against all odds, we cleared the boat through customs, during Ramadan, at a time when even banks are closed for 10 days. We trained, despite my crew having an injury and needing six stitches on her hand two days before racing. We fought and fought hard, got the silver and beat the other team.

"If you cannot support, please do not shatter", said Varsha, as she put things in perspective, unable to assimilate the agony of excellence being overlooked when the ultimate goal is to win a medal in the Asian Games.

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