New Delhi, Sept 29 (PTI) Frustrated by the “absurdity” in selection criteria, Indian gymnast Rakesh Patra Saturday boycotted the trial for the 48th Artistic World Championship, while Dipa Karmakar too skipped it due to fitness issues here.
The gymnasts appearing for the trial were left stumped when they came to know about SAI’s directive that they will have to perform the all-around routine instead of their individual events for selection.
Patra claimed that India’s long-serving chief coach G S Bawa didn’t have any clue about the selection criteria a day before the trial and only announced it after a group of gymnasts had already performed their events at the I G Stadium on Saturday.
“On 28th Sep, a day prior to the trials, I asked Mr Gurdial Singh Bawa whom SAI has appointed as Chief Coach for Gymnastics and who also appears to be a selection committee member about the selection criteria and he informed that he does not know anything,” Patra wrote in a letter sent to the Sports Secretary, Sports Authority of India (SAI) and Gymnastic Federation of India.
“Today, trials began and after performance by few gymnasts, the same Mr Bawa announced a selection criteria.
“Such atmosphere of uncertainty and negativity is being created by people like Mr Bawa which is clearly pushing back the development of my sport,” the top gymnast wrote in the letter, a copy of which is in possession of PTI.
Patra, who narrowly missed out on medals by finishing fourth at the World Challenge Cup in Turkey, Melbourne World Cup and Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, said he has been focussing on individual events to qualify for 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
“I had been focusing on my special events through which I aimed to bring medals for our country and get a spot for the 2020 Olympics. However the selection here is being announced on the basis of another event where there is no medal potential,” he said.
Patra said he was left frustrated due to the incidents and skipped the trials.
“Although I had been well prepared for my events, these absurd series of events puts me under undue mental frustration. And since selection may not be from the events prepared and performed by me, it would be useless to perform and accordingly I openly boycott this arbitrary selection process,” he said.
“I kindly ask the concerned authority to investigate the whole selection process and take appropriate actions to avoid repeat of such absurdity.” Top Indian gymnast Dipa Karmakar also skipped the selection trials due to fitness issues.
“She didn’t appear in the trial. A few days back she had fallen after slipping and she hurt her thigh. So she is not prepared for the trials so after discussing with coach she decided to skip the trials,” an official said on the condition of anonymity.
Pranati Das and Aruna Reddy topped the women’s trials, which saw around 16 gymnasts taking part in the day-long event.
Interestingly, Aruna had already communicated her intention to skip the World Championship.
Around 16 men took part in the men’s trial with Aditya Rana and Gaurav Kumar finishing in the first and second spot with scores of 75.765 and 74.998, respectively.
The stand-off between the Sports Ministry and Gymnastic Federation of India (GFI) had left the athletes in the lurch after the former refused to clear the team for the World Championship, saying that the federation stands suspended as per the national sports code.
Uncertainty over the gymnasts’ participation at the Doha event ended last week with the SAI deciding to hold trials for the event on September 29 and 30.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.