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Thursday, 2 October 2014


It takes courage to stand up to injustice and Sarita Devi showed abundance of it when she refused to accept her bronze medal at the Asian Games. That day we saw two tough women , two champions. Mary Kom , who bagged her first Asian Games gold medal and went on to be a legend,  and  Sarita Devi , despite being heartbroken , refused to settle for a manipulated score. She was robbed. She was cheated. And then she was insulted.

Image Courtesy : NeelabhToons
Of course it doesn't take long for Indian Olympic Association to point fingers at her and call her a sour loser. But a woman who has been representing the nation for 14 years in international boxing events , an Arjuna Awardee , would by all means know where she deserved her win and If needed wouldn't she know how to handle a clear defeat?

I  don't know squat about boxing. I celebrated with pride Mary Kom's victory just like any other Indian did.   On the other hand Sarita Devi's  inconsolable state broke my heart and disappointed me.  A true fighter that she was ,Devi proceeded to appeal. Despite being accompanied by IOA officials on the tour , Sarita had to borrow $500 from an Indian journalist in order to fund her appeal which also turned fruitless.

A silent, sobbing  Sarita steps on the podium and refuses to accept her medal and even then , no official was reported seen with her after the incident. Being the true champion she was , She hugged Ji Na Park ,gave her the medal and when she refused to accept it, Sarita left it at the podium and walked away.

I would , along with several other Indian spectators would assume that Sarita's case may have had more force had there been a joint support from the IOA , which did not happen. Instead, Sarita went on to face an international ban after she refused to accept her medal.

Some have argued on social media that Sarita's way of handling this situation could have been perceived as disrespectful on the nation's behalf but what could one do when our own Chef De Mission did nothing but sham her.

Combat sports is no joke. These women have sacrificed days away from their children for ruthless training. Gender bias in India especially sports is a known secret. The uproar that would have been caused had it been a male sportsperson would have been unmatched. As per reports, no official had approached Sarita for 24 hours. All her efforts were her own.

Sarita Devi's grit is iconic. Don't confuse her tears for weakness. There is a lot of bravery in the tenderness she shows.

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