Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju on Friday responded to boxer Nikhat Zareen who had written to him asking for a fair trial for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. While assuring her, he said that a Minister should not be involved in the selection of players.
“I’ll surely convey to Boxing Federation to take the best decision keeping in mind the best interest of the nation, sports and athletes,” Rijiju tweeted.
“Although, Minister should not be involved in the selection of the players by the Sports Federations which are autonomous as per Olympic Charter,” he added.
After six-time champion Mary Kom won a bronze medal in the 51-kg weight category at the World Championships, the BFI has decided that all medal-winners from that event will get an automatic spot in the Tokyo Olympic qualifiers slated to be held in Wuhan from February 3 to 14. The decision, effectively, shuts the door on Nikhat, who is in the same weight category as Mary Kom.
Nikhat had told IANS on Wednesday that she would speak to the Sports Minister after trying to contact BFI President Ajay Singh several times. And that is exactly what she did on Thursday as she also took to Twitter to post the letter.
“All I want is a fair chance. If I’m not given the opportunity to compete what am I training for. Sports is about fair play & I don’t want to loose faith in my country. Jai Hind,” she wrote.
In the letter, also published with the tweet, she brought the example of how even Michael Phelps had to qualify every time to participate in the Olympics and also spoke about how she has been inspired by six-time champion Mary Kom since she was a teenager.
“I have been inspired by Mary Kom since I was a teenager. The best way I can do justice to this inspiration was to strive to be as great a boxer as her. And Mary Kom is too big a legend in sport to need to hide from competition and not actually defend her Olympic qualification.
“After all, if 23-time gold-medallist Michael Phelps had to re-qualify every time for the Olympics, the rest of us must do the same,” she wrote.
“I am writing to you as a sportswoman trying to make her mark in sport and bring India glory on the international stage.”
She also found support from Abhinav Bindra, India’s only individual gold medal winner at the Olympics, as he re-tweeted Nikhat’s tweet with the message: “While I have all the respect for Mary Kom, fact is, an athlete’s life is an offering of proof. Proof that we can be as good as yesterday. Better than yesterday. Better than tomorrow’s man/woman. In sport, yesterday never counts.”