Mary Kom caught in Olympic qualification row in India

Vastavam web: MC Mary Kom has inspired many young boxers in India but one of the new generation feels the six-times world champion has received special treatment from the country’s federation over Olympic qualification and is fighting back. The 36-year-old Kom, an Olympic bronze medallist from London 2012, has been given an automatic spot in a qualifying competition for Tokyo 2020 by the Boxing Federation of India (BFI).

That decision has been criticised by 23-year-old fellow flyweight Nikhat Zareen, who says that Kom should have to go through trials. The BFI initially announced that only the finalists of the recent world championships would be automatically selected for the Olympic qualifier in China early next year while others would have to earn a spot through trials.

Even Kom’s selection for the event in Russia was mired in controversy after the BFI exempted her from trials for those championships. Zareen, whose hopes of competing at the Tokyo Olympics will be over if Kom qualifies in China, has written to sports minister Kiren Rijiju demanding his intervention. Kom has said she would follow BFI instructions.

“The best way I can do justice to this inspiration was to strive to be as great a boxer as her… “I have been reliably informed that the rule is now being changed again to accommodate my senior Mary Kom as the Indian candidate without a trial.”

Her cause has received support from other athletes, including shooter Abhinav Bindra, India’s only individual Olympic gold medallist, who said Kom’s past achievements should not grant her favourable treatment. “While I have all the respect for Mary Kom…In sport, yesterday NEVER counts,” Bindra tweeted. Sports Minister Rijiju, however, has ruled out any intervention citing the BFI’s autonomy under the Olympic charter.