Care and sympathy are as important as the training that goes into the making of a champion. Yet, these are feelings Indian sportspersons have rarely, if ever, experienced. Instead, theirs is a world full of fear, pressure and intimidation. The Sarita Devi episode is the latest, but it is neither the first, nor will it be the last.
On Tuesday, all that the officials did was to shake their head at the ridiculous decision handed out to the boxer. Instead of going down to console her or see if an appeal could work, or maybe just let their displeasure known, they quickly made their way to their courtesy cars to get to the next venue the hockey stadium, for the India-Korea semi-final.
The coach and the officials around Sarita kept insisting there was no point in appealing as AIBA rules do not entertain protests against the judges’ decision.
Yet, Mongolia, victims of a similar decision, did protest and lost the $500 protest fee. They even threatened to withdraw the boxing team. Sure, nothing happened, but they had made a point and their boxer felt ‘wanted’.
It took over two hours for Sarita and her husband, C Thoiba Singh, to persuade their coach to lodge a protest after putting in $400 herself and borrowing $100 from a journalist. Of course, the protest was rejected, but she had voiced her feelings.
A day later, Sarita carried on her protest by refusing the medal and putting it around the Korean, Park Jina’s neck. She in turn gave it back, while the Chinese anthem was being played, after which Sarita left the medal on the podium.
Protests and printouts denouncing judges indicated this may all have been planned but the hurt was so deep that it would have been difficult not to vent it out. Most of the officials have already begun washing their hands off Sarita, saying she could invite suspension the AIBA has already opened a case against her. The suspension, if it happens, will be a tragedy indeed.
But all this could have been avoided, had the officials shown some care and sympathy on the first day itself.
Ah, care, sympathy? But, those words don’t exist in the Indian officialdom’s lexicon.