Sarita Devi reiterates that she was justified in her reaction at Incheon, but says she only apologised as she didn't want
other boxers to suffer the consequences
New Delhi: She has offered an unconditional apology for an emotionally-charged protest at the Asian Games but Indian boxer Laishram Sarita Devi yesterday hoped that her outburst would ensure better judging at next month’s World Championship in Korea — the country where she felt “wronged”.
Laishram Sarita Devi reacts after refusing to accept her bronze medal during the medal ceremony for the women's lightweight (57-60kg) category at Incheon’s Seonhak Gymnasium on Wednesday. Pic/AFP.
Speaking to PTI after returning from Incheon, Korea with a controversial bronze medal, which she refused to accept at the presentation ceremony, Sarita said the episode has left her “mentally drained”.
“I hope the judging is better in the World Championship (scheduled from November 13 to 25 in Jeju Islands). Korea is hosting it and I am hoping that my protest will make some difference to the standard of judging. I hope nobody feels wronged like I did. No boxer should go through this, we work so hard,” she said.
Sarita lost a contentious semi-final in the Asian Games to Korean Park Ji-na despite dominating the bout. The Indian later cried bitterly at the podium and refused to wear the medal that was presented to her.
She instead gave it to Park as a mark of protest during the ceremony, prompting the Amateur International Boxing Association (AIBA) to initiate disciplinary proceedings against her. Sarita later offered an “unconditional apology” to AIBA for her actions.
“I apologised because I did not want any other Indian boxer to suffer. I fight for my country and by apologising I have tried to ensure that no other Indian gets affected. I feel I was wronged,” she said. “We suffered a lot due to the federation’s termination earlier, I didn’t want anything new to affect our boxers.”
Recalling her emotional moments at the podium, Sarita said she was not in control.
“I could not control myself on the podium. I offered her (Park) the medal because that’s what she deserved. I deserved better. She came to me to return the bronze but I could not take it, I was too overwhelmed. She requested me to take it back. I am not angry with her. She was just fighting like me. The wrong was done by others. It was not her fault,” Sarita recalled.