Ridiculous and unacceptable: Indian athletes slam IOA chief
India's medal-winning athletes slam Indian Olympic Association chief Narinder Batra for criticising the level of competition at Commonwealth Games and suggesting a pull-out
New Delhi: The athletes reacted with anger but the officialdom chose to weigh its words before responding to Indian Olympic Association chief Narinder Batra's assertion that the Commonwealth Games is a waste of time and the country should consider a permanent pull-out.
Batra, while speaking at an event in Bangalore on Tuesday, said the level of competition at the CWG is not particularly high and that India should consider a pull-out to improve its own standards.
The statement has context as Batra had earlier called for an Indian boycott of the 2022 CWG in Birmingham over the axing of shooting from the Games program due to logistical issues. Shooting has been a major contributor to India's CWG tally and the nation stands second, with 134 medals, in the overall count won from the sport.
"It is not acceptable," said one of India's currently most successful table tennis players G Sathiyan, who claimed two silvers and a bronze in the 2018 edition in Gold Coast. The shooting fraternity chose to sidestep queries on Batra's comment but others were upfront. Boxing star Vijender Singh, who is the first and only male pugilist with an Olympic medal to his credit, said Batra's statement is heartbreaking as it undermines athletes' hard work.
"It is heartbreaking. By this logic, India should not send teams to invitational tournaments either because the level of competition is not like the Olympics or the World Championship even there," said the boxer who has two silver and a bronze from the three CWGs. "Why belittle the athletes' achievements? And in any case, CWG has strong boxing nations such as England and Ireland in fray," he added.
The 2014 Glasgow CWG gold-medallist shuttler Parupalli Kashyap also differed with Batra, who also heads the International Hockey Federation (FIH). "It is ridiculous to think of boycotting the Commonwealth Games. I don't think the standard is low. I didn't have it easy when I beat all these players during the 2010 edition (when he won bronze) and the 2014 Games," he recalled.
"It is not like we are winning all the gold medals. Even in badminton, there are teams like Malaysia, England who are tough," he added. In fact, 2010 CWG gold-medallist discus thrower Krishna Poonia said the Commonwealth competition in athletics is stiffer than the Asian Games, which is generally perceived to be tougher by the sporting fraternity.
"For athletics, CWG is world-class, the competition is of higher level than the Asian Games," she said.
A national federation official asked if Batra would deem the competition good enough if shooting is brought back into the CWG fold. "Someone should ask him will the CWG regain significance if shooting is accepted back on the roster," the official said.
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