All athletes must undergo selection trials, says Malleswari

India's first woman Olympic medallist Karnam Malleswari said that all the athletes must compete in the trails in order to make the cut for the Olympics.

Olympic bronze medallist Karnam Malleswari said that awareness must be created among athletes about the doping tests.   -  V.V. Subrahmanyam

Olympic bronze medallist weightlifter Karnam Malleswari on Thursday steered clear of the boxing selection trial controversy involving Nikhat Zareen but said all athletes should be ready for such a contest to be selected for marquee events.

Malleswari’s comments came days after Nikhat demanded a fair Tokyo Olympics selection trial from the Boxing Federation of India (BFI).

With three spots already sealed for the Olympic trials, Nikhat’s chances of securing the final place had depended on how she performed against the celebrated MC Mary Kom in the Indian Boxing League. But the bout was later cancelled.

According to Nikhat, the BFI had assured her the fourth and final spot for the selection trial if she fares well against Mary Kom in the IBL.

Malleswari, a 2000 Sydney Olympics bronze winner in women’s 69kg, gave a guarded reply when asked about the boxing matter.

“All athletes should give trials. Every player, be it senior or junior, has to compete (in the trial). Only when they do well, prove themselves, then can they go ahead,” Malleswari said on the sidelines of the launch of the ‘BBC Indian Sportswoman of the Year 2019’ award.

“Whoever performs well should be selected. The selection should be fair and all rules and regulations should be followed,” she added.

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The first Indian woman to win a medal at the Olympics, Malleswari also said she is hoping for a good showing by weightlifter Mirabai Chanu in Tokyo.

“In Tokyo, no doubt Mirabai Chanu will do well. She has been performing well for the past three years. I am sure she’ll bring a medal.”

Indian weightlifting has been synonymous with doping, but Malleswari said proper measures are now being taken to educate athletes to raise awareness around the issue.

“Doping is not just a problem in India but all over the world. What we can do is the more we educate our players that there won’t be any benefits of doping, you spoil your career.

“Officials and coaches are working for this and whenever we get time to interact with players we tell them they should be very careful of what they are consuming. Even if it is medicine for cold, they should consult a doctor, because an athlete in the Indian camp can be called any time for a test not just during tournaments,” Malleswari added.

On BBC’s initiative of launching an award honouring the women athletes of India, the former world champion said it is important to highlight their achievements.

“It is very important to us to highlight the fantastic achievements that many of our female sports personalities have and but also to highlight the huge challenges many of them have faced. We need to raise the profile of women’s sport.”