Over one billion Indians may be rejoicing at the country’s rich medal haul at the just concluded London Olympics. And while the nation does have enough reasons to celebrate, it’s important to know that a huge number of controversies dogged the Indian contingent at the 2012 Olympics.
Here are some of the controversies the Indian contingent was embroiled in:
The Games started on an unpleasant note for the Indian contingent as an Indian lady, Madhura Nagendra, gatecrashed the procession of India’s athletes at the opening. The young lady, in red shirt and blue trousers, was seen leading the Indian contingent in the march past beside flag bearer Sushil Kumar.
Olympic bronze medalist MC Mary Kom couldn’t train with her American coach Charles Atkinson since he wasn’t granted accreditation for the Games. Instead, the five-time world boxing champion was forced to train with India’s national coach Anoop Kumar during the Olympics.
And the reason Atkinson couldn’t join her at the Olympic Village: He didn’t have an International Boxing Association (AIBA) 3-star certification, which is a pre-requisite for accreditation.
Who knows what the result would have been if she was allowed to train with her coach?
Like Mary Kom, discus thrower Seema Antil personal coach, American Tony Ciarellia, wasn't given accreditation. To add to her woes, her request for accreditation for her husband and trainer, Ankush, was turned down. Antil was informed that chief national coach, Bahadur Singh, would be her trainer.
India’s boxing team was plagued by controversy at the London Games with the camp feeling four of their boys had been wrongfully denied a win.
L Devendro Singh suffered what seemed like an unfair defeat in his 23-18 loss in the light flyweight division (49 kg) quarter-final to Ireland’s Paddy Barnes and the Indian camp too claimed that he had been a victim of poor refereeing.
Before the Manipuri dynamo’s disappointing end, three other Indian boxers -- Sumit Sangwan, Manoj Kumar and Vikas Krishan – felt they had been victims of a bad scoring system. Though the trio felt they had won matches, but the judges ruled against them and the points tally went in favour of their opponent.
Sangwan narrowly lost his 81 kg bout to Brazilian Yamaguchi Falcao Florentino 15-14. The decision enraged the Indian contingent with sports minister Ajay Maken even having them lodging an official protest. Unfortunately, the appeal was turned down.
Then Manoj (64 kg) left feeling ‘cheated’ after his 16-20 defeat to Great Britain’s Thomas Stalker after Krishan’s winning result against American Errol Spence was overturned and he declared a 11-13 loser in the 69 kg.
Millions of Indian fans were leftstunned when Vikas Krishan (69kg) was ousted after AIBA overturned the result of his pre-quarterfinal bout that he had won, following a review.
Wrestler Sushil Kumar made the nation proud with his silver-medal winning performance at the Olympics. But it wasn’t a smooth journey and his semi-final opponent cast aspersions on his reputation. Akshurek Tanatarov, Sushil Kumar’s semifinal rival, complained to the referee that the Indian grappler had bit his ears. He had a bleeding ear to show as evidence but the official wasn’t convinced. Television pictures showed Sushil’s face close to the Kazakh’s ear but they weren’t conclusive.
Asked about the incident, Sushil reply was, “I’m a vegetarian.”
India's archery squad didn’t have an accredited physiotherapist with them. Under pressure from the athletes, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) Thursday cleared the way for England-based physio Patrick Kenny to be part of the Olympic contingent for the London Games. But he wasn’t given accreditation, but only daily passes for the Olympic Village. This meant he didn’t have access to the training and competition venues.
Faced with these woes, the six-member archery team, thus, did their stretching and other exercises on the sidewalks outside Lord’s, the competition venue.
“The International Olympic Council has a fixed quota of officials accompanying the athletes and we have allotted the accreditations to wrestling and archery federations as per their designated quotas,” said the IOA acting president VK Malhotra. “We are getting requests from the WFI for accommodating a physio, but it's not possible now.”
The wrestling squad had no full-time physiotherapist or a masseur and Sushil Kumar, who won the silver, had to arrange for his own physiotherapist, Arvinderpal Singh.
But the woes didn't end there. Since no accreditation is issued to physiotherapists, Singh couldn't be with his ward. And with no guest pass, Sushil Kumar had to train for a couple of days leading up to his fight on his own. Singh did get a guest pass eventually, but was left just one day to assist Kumar lose two kilograms for the weigh-in.
Sushil Kumar said he was unhappy with the fact that his physical trainer-cum-masseur was not made part of the contingent.
Like the boxers, the wrestling squad too was unhappy with the scoring system.
Coach Yashvir Singh has complained to the officials of cheating after Amit Kumar lost his 55 kg freestyle quarterfinal bout against Georgia’s Vladimer Khinchegashvili. This despite Kumar looking in control for most of the match. The Indian cap was angry at the unjust way points were awarded to the Georgian and challenged the decision, but their protest was rejected.
India were spared from being shamed on the international stage after the Delhi High Court barred sacked CWG Organising Committee Chairman Suresh Kalmadi from going to London to attend the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games, saying that his participation could cause "embarrassment" to the nation.
Kalmadi is out on bail in a corruption case linked to the 2010 Commonwealth Games here after having spent over a year in prison.
Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes scripted the biggest and longest controversy ahead of the London Olympics over their inability to play with each other. Bhupathi started the row by refusing to pair up with Paes for the men’s doubles event. This was aggravated by Bhupathi’s regular partner Rohan Bopanna supporting the stand and saying he too wouldn’t join up with Leander.
Paes then hit back threatening to pull out of the Olympics if paired with a junior player for the men's doubles event. He also demanded an assurance that only he would be paired with Sania Mirza for the mixed doubles event, rather than Bhupathi or Bopanna. Ultimately, everybody got what they wanted, except the country which failed to win a medal in tennis.
Even before the Games started, there were question marks being raised over whether India would participate in the London Olympics. India wanted both the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as well as London 2012 organising committee to reconsider Dow Chemicals' sponsorship of the mega sporting event, given the company’s links to Union Carbide, whose Indian subsidiary ran a pesticide plant in Bhopal wherein a gas leak allegedly killed nearly 25,000 people in 1984. There were various groups campaigning that India should boycott the Games over the issue. Ultimately though, the Indian contingent did participate.