The never-ending drama of selections for the Olympic trials is ceaseless as the 2000 Sydney Olympics bronze medalist winner, Karnam Malleswari has also decided to speak up in support of Nikhat Zareen and the necessity of conducting fair trials. The first woman to win an Olympic medal, Malleswari stressed the importance of sending only the best ahead for the quarterly sporting extravaganza, at the launch of the 'BBC Indian Sportswoman of the Year 2019'.
Zareen, who has been up at arms with the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) and has been persistent to get a chance to compete at the upcoming Olympic trials, has been headlining the news for a few months now. With the trial slots fast-filling up ahead of the end-December trial bouts, Nikhat's chances of getting a place keep narrowing. So far, three spots have already been secured for the Olympic trials by Jyoti Gulia, Ritu Grewal and most certainly, Mary Kom, which leaves only one spot open. For the Telangana girl, the chances of securing the final place had depended on how she performed against the celebrated MC Mary Kom in the Indian Big Bout Boxing League. However, Kom pulled out of the tournament citing injury woes at the ninth hour which led to the cancelling of the clash.
Speaking on the sidelines of the 'BBC Indian Sportswoman of the Year 2019', Malleswari said, “All athletes should give trials. Every player, be it senior or junior, has to compete (in the trial). Only when they do well, prove themselves, then can they go ahead,” she relayed to the PTI. The Olympic bronze medallist further stressed, “Whoever performs well should be selected. The selection should be fair and all rules and regulations should be followed,” she added.
The star weightlifter also puts her faith on Mirabai Chanu to get home a few laurels from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Malleswari is extremely hopeful about Chanu and said, “In Tokyo, no doubt Mirabai Chanu will do well. She has been performing well for the past three years. I am sure she’ll bring a medal.”
Malleswari also took the opportunity to voice her thoughts about the Indian weightlifting scene and its synonymous association with doping. The Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna awardee expressed that proper measures are now being taken to educate athletes to raise awareness around the issue and curb the hindrance of doping in the sporting community. The former World Champion said, “Doping is not just a problem in India but all over the world. What we can do is the more we educate our players that there won’t be any benefits of doping, you spoil your career, " she told the PTI.
“Officials and coaches are working for this and whenever we get time to interact with players we tell them they should be very careful of what they are consuming. Even if it is medicine for cold, they should consult a doctor, because an athlete in the Indian camp can be called any time for a test not just during tournaments,” Malleswari conveyed.
Present at the launch of BBC's initiative event for conferring honour on the women athletes of India, Malleswari said, “It is very important to us to highlight the fantastic achievements that many of our female sports personalities have and but also to highlight the huge challenges many of them have faced. We need to raise the profile of women’s sport," she mentioned.