Boxer Nikhat Zareen has been named in the 51kg weight category for the national trials that would determine the participants for the Olympic Qualifiers next year. It effectively puts an end to the long-drawn-out saga between Mary Kom and Zareen after it had been speculated that the former would be India's representative in the women's 51kg category in the Qualifiers without playing in the trials. Zareen had been vocal about a fair run being given to all the boxers so that they all stood a chance of playing at the Tokyo Olympics 2020.
The Boxing Federation of India (BFI) has finally agreed to her requests by announcing the final squad for the trials that will be held in New Delhi on December 27 and 28.
Zareen, number two in her weight category, will take on Jyoti Gulia, the third-ranked boxer in her weight division and also a former world youth champion. Mary Kom will face Ritu Grewal and will face Zareen only if the two players win their respective first-round bouts.
How the saga unfolded?
In August this year, the BFI had announced that all women boxers who reached the finals of the World Championships that were held in Russia would get a direct spot for the Olympic qualifiers. However, none of the women boxers from India could make it to the top two, with Mary Kom (51kg) and Lovlina Borgohain (69kg) winning bronze medals after they lost in the semis.
However, later, BFI president Ajay Singh stated that the Manipuri would be exempted from the trials considering her consistent showing in 2019, where she won two gold medals along with the bronze. This prompted Zareen to approach the sports minister Kiren Rijiju. However, he refused to intervene in the matter, with Singh maintaining a stoic silence as well.
But by taking a stand and not fearing the authorities and a senior player, Zareen has given herself a realistic chance of fulfilling her Olympic dreams.