Rule tweaked, Mary for Olympics qualifier

NEW DELHI: The Boxing Federation of India (BFI) has once again tweaked its selection policy for the women’s team. Now, all the medal winners from the World Championships will get automatically selected for the Asia/Oceania Olympics qualifier scheduled to be held in Wuhan, China, in February 2020.

Rule tweaked, Mary for Olympics qualifier

Mary Kom - File photo

editorial@tribune.com

Vinayak Padmadeo

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 15

The Boxing Federation of India (BFI) has once again tweaked its selection policy for the women’s team. Now, all the medal winners from the World Championships will get automatically selected for the Asia/Oceania Olympics qualifier scheduled to be held in Wuhan, China, in February 2020.

The decision will benefit both Mary Kom (51kg) and Lovlina Borghoin (69kg), who won bronze medals at the recently-concluded World Championships in Ulan-Ude, Russia.

In its earlier communication to the boxers and coaches, BFI had said that those making the cut for the finals of the World Championships will earn direct selection for the Olympics qualifier. The others were supposed to go through a trial process.

Strangely, BFI had a different take for its men boxers. For them winning bronze at the Worlds would have been enough to earn a direct shot at the qualifiers. It is understood that the decision was taken as the BFI top brass deemed the women’s competition relatively easier compared to the men’s.

However, today BFI president Ajay Singh said that there cannot be different selection criteria for both the teams. “The men and women will have the same selection criteria. I will make it official soon,” Singh told The Tribune on the sidelines of a felicitation ceremony to honour the women’s team that won four medals.

Nikhat left high and dry

The decision means that Nikhat Zareen will not get a shot to clinch a spot for the first qualifier. BFI had controversially stopped Nikhat from challenging Mary in the 51kg category after deciding not to hold the trial, despite taking out the draws in August. BFI took this arbitrary decision after Mary threatened to not appear in the trial.

Today’s decision, which is yet to be communicated to the BFI executive, will once again leave both Nikhat and Vanlal Duati high and dry.

Singh explained that this u-turn came about because of the realisation that medal winners would have won automatic qualification for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics had it not been for the suspension of the international boxing association (AIBA) by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). “I am clear in my mind but I will have to have a meeting with my BFI colleagues about this issue. But my personal opinion is that whoever has won a medal at the World Championships should automatically take part in the qualifiers,” Singh said.

Mary surprised

The decision came as a surprise to Mary. “I am very happy and I am thankful that he (president) took this decision. It also reflects that he has belief in my abilities,” she said.

However, the federation has not decided on what happens if Mary or Lovlina fail to earn qualifications in Wuhan. A top official said that they will take a final decision about selection for the second Olympics qualifier scheduled to be held in Paris in May 2020.

“Ideally, if she (Mary) doesn’t earn qualification then we should give a chance to others,” said a BFI official.

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