Gymnastic Federation of India (GFI) president Sudhir Mital on Tuesday said the uncertainty over the participation of Indian gymnasts in the upcoming Asian Games is causing confusion and having a “psychological” impact on the athletes.
GFI had written to the Sports Authority of India (SAI) and the Sports Ministry, regarding the selection of nine gymnasts, including Dipa Karmakar, Rakesh Patra, and Yogeshwar Singh, for the Asian Games as per the criteria specified by the Ministry.
However, during the meeting on July 19, “SAI officials informed that only 2 gymnasts are eligible as per the selection criteria,” following which GFI wrote to the Sports Ministry and SAI but still hasn’t received any response.
“We haven’t received any communication, we have written thrice to SAI and Ministry saying that at least nine gymnasts -- two women and five men in artistic and two in trampoline -- are eligible as per the criteria set out by Ministry but what criteria SAI is using now, we don’t know,” Mital told PTI.
“They are saying that they don’t fulfil the criteria because SAI is applying different criteria and Ministry’s criteria are different. However we have still not received any formal communication after asking for clarification.
“They have to decide the squad immediately, this is causing a lot of uncertainty, confusion and consternation among the gymnasts, affecting them psychologically and their physical training is also getting impacted.” In the letter that GFI wrote to Sandip Pradhan, SAI Director General, Mital said: “Some days back, I had received a telephone call from Shri Inderjeet Singh Pabla, SAI questioning our selection of gymnasts for the Asian Games on basis of some internal analysis/criteria of SAI (which has not been officially communicated to us) wherein I had once again explained to him in detail about our understanding of fulfilling the eligibility by the selected gymnasts as laid out by MYAS.”
The Sports Ministry’s selection criteria state that “In individual events during the last 12 months prior to the commencement of the event (Asian Games), the performance of the sports persons should not be less than the performance achieved by the eighth position holder of the 2018 Asian Games in measurable sports.” In the letter, the GFI president said that “SAI analysis is limited to evaluating the players on the basis of past performance alone.” “Though past performance definitely should be taken into consideration, I am sure you will appreciate it is present form of a player that matters most in determining the performance potential at the forthcoming Asian Games,” Mital wrote.
“Otherwise there would be no need for conducting any selection trials whatsoever and one can simply suggest the names on basis of previous performances irrespective of how he or she is presently performing without determining any potential/prospect of winning a medal.” Rakesh Patra said he is extremely upset by the turn of events.
“Even in 2018, I faced bias. I don’t know why Inderjeet Singh Pabla has been made an expert for this selection. He has some personal enmity. We all are fulfilling the criteria according to Ministry guidelines. It is unfair and demoralising as a player,” he said.
“Names of all the men gymnasts have been struck off although we did well in the trials. Our nominative entry has gone for Asian Games but if we don’t get clearance from Ministry we won’t be able to go. Why it is happening to us? We are living in uncertainty.
“We got only one event to participate in, there was no competition other than the Asian Artistic Championship in the last year.” Meanwhile, Dipa has approached the Sports Ministry for relaxation in criteria and even the GFI has requested SAI to consider her case.
A ministry official also said that Dipa is likely to be given relaxation for her contribution to Indian gymnastics.
“Dipa and the federation (GFI) have written to us requesting for eligibility criteria relaxation and the matter will come up for discussion this week and, in all probability, she will be considered,” the official said.
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