Talented young Indian pugilist, Nikhat Zareen has made the headlines today for her fair play approach to the Sports Minister of India, Kiren Rijiju. She has raised her voice against the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) decision to supposedly allocate Mary Kom’s direct entry into the Tokyo Olympic qualifiers which is to be held in Wuhan from February 3 to 14 2020.
The first thing to note in this controversy is that Zareen was the first choice in 51kg category until Mary Kom shifted from 48 kg. She won gold at Standja Memorial, silver at Thailand Open and bronze medal at the Asian Championships. She is also in the government’s Target Olympic Podium Scheme for the Tokyo Olympics.
Ahead of the World Championships this year, BFI had said that gold and silver medallists from the Worlds will directly go for Olympic qualifiers but now BFI president has said that since bronze medallists in men’s division make direct qualification, women will too - a tweak of rule that directly benefits Mary Kom and puts Zareen at a disadvantageous position. This is the second time Zareen has been in the receiving end of unfair rules & decisions from the authority, the first being when BFI selectors exempted Mary Kom on the day of the bout after the draw for 51kg was made at the trials of World Championships in August.
This is directly a matter or internal politics that can harm the future of a talented athlete. The authorities should stick to their words and grant opportunities based on the performance and not brand. What is your take on this?