Olympic ban breeds frustration for Indian athletes

MUMBAI Thu Feb 14, 2013 11:39am IST

Uzbekistan's Abbos Atoev (R) fights India's Vijender Singh during their quarterfinal Men's Middle (75kg) boxing match at the London Olympic Games August 6, 2012. REUTERS/Murad Sezer/Files

Uzbekistan's Abbos Atoev (R) fights India's Vijender Singh during their quarterfinal Men's Middle (75kg) boxing match at the London Olympic Games August 6, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Murad Sezer/Files

Related Topics

MUMBAI (Reuters) - Indian boxing's pin-up boy Vijender Singh drags himself to the ring in Patiala each day, sweats out mechanically and leaves wondering if it was all worth the trouble.

Singh's frustration reflects the mood of the athletes in a country that has been kicked out of the Olympic family for allowing government interference in the functioning of its controversial Olympic committee.

To make matters worse for local boxers, the Indian Amateur Boxing Federation has separately been suspended by the sport's international governing body (AIBA) for "possible manipulation" in its September elections.

"It's very frustrating," Singh told Reuters by telephone.

"We can't go to any camps, can't compete in any competitions but still train day in and day out to stay in shape.

"We ask ourselves every day 'Why are we training? What's the use of it when we are banned?'

"The urge to train harder will come only when we can see a ray of hope."

Singh's middleweight bronze in the 2008 Beijing Games helped raise boxing's profile in India, which otherwise remains obsessed with cricket.

"It (ban) shouldn't have happened. It is not good for Indian sports and Indian boxing. Whatever needs to be done should be done and this ban should be lifted as soon as possible."

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) banned the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) due to government interference in its December 5 elections, which also saw a tainted official being elected to a key post.

Lalit Bhanot, who spent 11 months in custody following corruption charges that swirled around the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, was elected unopposed as the secretary-general despite the IOC declaring the elections "null and void".

While the athletes may still compete under the IOC flag, the prospect does not excite discus thrower Krishna Poonia.

"It is obviously a matter of concern. Till this crisis is solved, there will always be concerns surrounding our participation in competitions and that too under some other flag," the 2010 Commonwealth Games gold medallist told Reuters.

"It's very confusing for us. We hope we won't suffer like the boxers."

THE WAY OUT

Bhanot and his IOA colleagues continue to defy the IOC and there appears no immediate solution either, something shooter Joydeep Karmakar finds exasperating.

"The way out is pretty simple and basic -- follow the Olympic Charter," he said by phone.

India should take the opportunity to weed out vested interests from sports administration, said Karmakar, who narrowly missed out on a bronze in men's 50m rifle prone at the London Olympics.

Singh echoed Karmakar's views and urged administrators to put national interest above anything else.

"I think the whole of India should be involved in solving this crisis. It's a loss for India and every Indian citizen," the 27-year-old boxer said. "If the officials are doing this for their personal gain, they are betraying the country."

IOC member Randhir Singh acknowledged the athletes were suffering for no fault of their own.

"You have to go by the IOC rules. If it carries on like this any further, it's possible that the Indian athletes will not be allowed to participate anywhere," he told Reuters.

"Who will suffer in the end? Obviously the Indian athletes and that too just because of the whims and fancies of a few."

(Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Public Health

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Cost Cutting

Cost Cutting

PM Narendra Modi boots officials out of the first class cabin  Full Article 

Airtel Profit Jumps

Airtel Profit Jumps

Bharti Q2 net profit more than doubles   Full Article 

Leisure Riding

Leisure Riding

Harley-Davidson woos affluent young Indians with bike culture  Full Article 

Maruti Earnings

Maruti Earnings

Maruti Suzuki net profit up 29 percent, beats estimates.  Full Article 

ICICI Results

ICICI Results

ICICI Bank Q2 profit up 15 percent, beats estimates.  Full Article 

Moody's on India

Moody's on India

Moody's welcomes India's policy steps, but wants to see more.  Full Article 

End Of QE

End Of QE

U.S. Fed ends bond buying, exhibits confidence in U.S. recovery.  Full Article 

Cook Comes Out

Cook Comes Out

Apple's Cook: "I'm proud to be gay"  Full Article 

Refining Margins

Refining Margins

BPCL aims to double refining margins with refinery expansion.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage