The plight of sports persons in the country could be well measured by the recent Indian boxer Sarita Devi’s case. The 32 year old boxer who had won a silver in the Commonwealth Games earlier this year refused to wear the bronze awarded to her around her neck, reports NDTV. She accepted the medal in her hand and wiped her tears holding it, before handing it to silver medalist Ji Na Park of host South Korea, who had defeated her on Tuesday.
The semifinal clash between Sarita and Park was intense, both exchanged heavy blows through the first two rounds, but the Indian was clearly the more powerful in the remaining two. However, the final decision in the bout – with two judges ruling against Sarita opened up the Pandora’s box.
The boxer who felt that she was a victim of a ‘pre-determined’ bout chose not to accept the medal around her neck. In the heat of the moment her husband Thoiba Singh engaged an expletive-laden tirade and tangled with security officials and organizing committee official Jung Jaek Yu.
Later the police was called as Thoiba grabbed his wife’s arm and tried to lead her back to the ring in protest, the next bout was already under way. “Don’t tell me it’s OK! This is not OK! What the hell is going on here!” he shouted at the top of his voice. “She won this fight and you give it to Korea,” he yelled. “We will accept the medal (bronze) at the ceremony but are planning to return it as a mark of protest,” Thoiba said.
The results of the game shocked everyone who witnessed the bout. However, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) office-bearers chose not to involve themselves in Sarita’s case. Sarita did not even have the $500 required to lodge a protest with AIBA. Her husband had to depend on Sarita’s coach Lenin Meitei and an Indian journalist to pay the amount, reports Indian Express.
Senior IOA officials, including secretary general Rajeev Mehta and deputy chef de mission Kuldeep Vats, were present at the venue, none offered assistance. Even Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) secretary general Randhir Singh decided to steer clear from the issue.
With Sarita’s crying face at the medal ceremony circulating instantly, thanks to the live reporting of the games, Twitter has picked it up. From “Sarita Devi” keyword now #SaritaDevi is trending at the top of Twitter India Trends, Facebook is yet to show a similar trend.
While people are supporting the stand taken by the boxer, at the same time questions are being raised on why has IOA once again left our players to their own misery. Can the stationed IOA officials beheld responsible at a time when Mongolian officials are fighting with the International Boxing Association (AIBA).
Mongolian boxer Tugstsogt Nyambayar was controversially ousted from the men’s bantamweight category to a South Korean opponent after a controversial decision.
#Saritadevi trends on Twitter
Too early to say if IOA staff would be questioned but with #saritadevi already trending and media picking it up, the pressure is mounting on such discrimination from both ends.
Listed below are some of the curated tweets in support of the boxer:
Why waste time going through these boxing bouts? Just declare the Koreans winners before they start! #saritadevi
— Vikram Chandra (@vikramchandra) September 30, 2014
— Karma (@Karma_Paljor) October 1, 2014
Image credit: PTI