Tuesday, October 28, 2014

What’s the road ahead for boxer Sarita Devi

This piece was published in Sportskeeda

So much has been said about Laishram Sarita Devi’s controversial semifinal bout in the 2014 Incheon Asian Games. There have been endless conversations in various quarters about her tearful ‘medal-rejecting’ incident. All the hullabaloo created over her ‘medal-rejecting’ episode was followed by wiser counsel with a written apology to the Olympic Committee of Asia (OCA), who let her off with a stern warning with the issue once again attracting newspaper space with the International Boxing Federation (AIBA) slapping a provisional ban on her and a few other Indian coaches much like the Indian boxing body was banned in December 2012 for failing to conduct its day-to-day operations befitting a sports body.

Boxing India secretary Jay Kowli says it is too much to expect Sarita to feature in the upcoming World Championship. “I don’t think she can make it to the upcoming World Championship. AIBA is unlikely to quickly announce their verdict just because the World Championship is just two weeks away. Given the circumstances I feel sorry for Sarita, but realistically she cannot play in the World Championship.”And now with the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), Sports Ministry and newly-created Boxing India offering their reply to AIBA’s provisional suspension, the big question that is on everyone’s lips is: what’s the road ahead for Sarita Devi.

Arguably the country’s second most popular women’s pugilist after MC Mary Kom, Sarita probably does not know which road she may have to undertake. Startlingly, too many theories are going around that the AIBA may lift her provisional ban if they are satisfied with the reply from the Indian body.

Why the timing of Sarita’s ban has become so much significant is because the 2014 World Amateur Women’s Boxing Championship is slated to be held in Jeju City, Korea in the second week of November. The innocence of Sarita comes to the fore when she recently told a news channel that she is hopeful of playing in the 2014 World Amateur Women’s Boxing Championship. Blame it on counseling or anything else, one can’t find fault with the star Manipuri boxer if she is ignorant about the nitty-gritties of how such a ban is lifted.

With barely two weeks for the 2014 World Championship, Monday (October 27) is the last date for the submission of reply to the AIBA ban. Of course, by conservative estimates even if the AIBA comes out with a positive verdict, Sarita will be left with little time to get on the flight to Korea for the World Championship, for which the one-day selection trials are going to be held in Delhi on November 4. So, it’s more or less clear that Sarita will not be part of the Indian team for the upcoming World Championship.
Kowli believes Boxing India along with IOA and the Sports Ministry want to ensure the provisional ban is lifted at the earliest. “We don’t want to be worried about Sarita missing the World Championship; we want AIBA to lift the ban so that Sarita can take in major international competitions from next year, especially in the 2016 Rio Olympics where she is a strong medal contender.”

The road ahead for Sarita may be replete with uncertainty for now, but knowing the circumstances under which she indulged in that medal-rejecting act should convince AIBA to take a lenient view of her and lift her ban as boxing fans across the country will be keen to see her box in the ring. Sarita will be better off in not bothering too much about what is not in her hands and put more focus on her training and steel herself to push the hard yards and make the country proud!

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