Selection regatta to determine sailing team for Asian Games

The 49er Fx women’s sailing team for the Games will be finalised in Jakarta.

Varsha Gautham (left) and Shweta Shervegar (right) had challenged the original team selection for the Asian Games.   -  Special Arrangement

The Delhi High Court has agreed to the suggestion of the Yachting Association of India (YAI) — one that was agreeable to all parties — to conduct a selection regatta in Jakarta, to select the 49er Fx women’s sailing team for the Asian Games.

The selection regatta is scheduled to be held from August 4 to 8, with August 5-7 being the race days.

Varsha Gautham, with Shweta Shervegar as the crew, had challenged the original selection of the team of Ekta Yadav and Shaila Charles, stating that the YAI had not followed its own selection norms. Varsha and Shweta had won the silver medal as against the bronze by Ekta and Shaila in the Asian Championship, which was supposed to be part of the selection process.

Justice Vibhu Bakhru had ordered that the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) take a decision on the subject as it was the final authority on fielding the teams for the Asian Games.

Veiled threats

On receipt of the court order and the minutes of the meeting of the emergency selection committee held on June 30 by the YAI, the IOA nominated Varsha and Shweta as the team for the Asian Games on the basis of the silver medal. This was challenged by Ekta and Shaila, following which the YAI had a meeting with all parties. The court noted the veiled threats for Varsha in the meeting that lasted for 25 minutes and was recorded.

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The court took objection to the manner the meeting was held, but refrained from taking action following the unqualified apology tendered by the YAI secretary general. In the recorded transcript that was part of the court order, Varsha was quoted as saying, “I don't want to say for the sake of not burning bridges that I want to give up on my dream to go to the Asian Games.”

Once the decision of the fresh selection regatta was agreed, the IOA pleaded that it may not be able to change names at a later date, but would make the best efforts to do so.

All costs borne by YAI

The YAI promised the court that there would not be any action against Varsha, as indicated by the selection committee, and that she would not be victimised. It also agreed to take care of all the cost of the selection regatta in Jakarta, including the air fare, boarding and lodging of the participants. The boats are already there in Jakarta.

It has also agreed as per the court direction to invite any other party that may be interested in the race, to make it competitive. If anything, the whole exercise is bound to keep both the teams of Varsha and Ekta on their toes, and possibly be sharp for the competition in the Asian Games.

Varsha had won a medal in the last Asian Games, when she was 16 years old, and has been quite charged up to capitalise on another chance, following the lifeline thrown to her rescue by the judiciary.