Women boxers vying to be in India’s squad for next year’s Olympic Qualifiers will appear for selection trials on December 29-30, high performance director Santiago Nieva said on Saturday, ending a bitter selection row involving six-time world champion M. C. Mary Kom.
Putting an end to speculation, triggered by Boxing Federation of India (BFI) president Ajay Singh’s statement that Mary Kom would be exempt from trials, Nieva said boxers in all five Olympic categories for women will be picked after selection bouts over two days. The Olympic qualifiers are scheduled to be held in China in February.
“All the women boxers for the qualifiers will be decided by trials because the laiddown policy was that only the finalists from the World Championships will get direct qualification for the Olympic qualifiers,” Nieva said, referring to the August decision by the BFI executive committee.
None of the women boxers in the Olympic categories – 51kg, 60kg, 64kg, 69kg and 75kg – could make the finals, with Mary Kom (51kg) and Lovlina Borgohain (69kg) finishing with bronze medals after semifinal losses.
Singh had stated that Mary Kom would be exempt from trials given her stupendously consistent performances, which includes two international gold medals besides a world bronze this year.
Zareen had written to Union sports minister Kiren Rijiju seeking his intervention, which the minister declined to do. Singh, on the other hand, has maintained a stoic silence on the matter ever since the controversy broke out.
The male boxers, except world medallists Amit Panghal (52kg) and Manish Kaushik (63kg), will appear for trials on December 27-28. While Panghal won a silver, Kaushik had claimed a bronze medal at the showpiece in Ekaterinburg, Russia.
“Among the men, Amit and Manish are exempt because they won medals in the world championships and fulfilled the decided criteria. Rest of the six categories (57kg, 69kg, 75kg, 81kg, 91kg and +91kg) will be decided by trials,” Nieva said.
“My position has always been that since nobody opposed this criteria when it was laid down, we should stick to it to avoid confusion. I have nothing more to say on what’s going on,” Nieva said.
Singh was, incidentally, not a part of the meeting that laid down the criteria for selection before the world championships, but was communicated the minutes of it.
“No, in that meeting, just the previous BFI position was communicated to SAI. Nothing more, nothing less. That meeting was about the roadmap for Indian boxing. The policy on selection trials was just informed, no decision was taken,” he said.