Incheon, Oct 1:
Indian boxer Sarita Devi Wednesday refused to wear her bronze medal and left it at the podium protesting against her controversial defeat to South Korean Jina Park in the semifinal of the 17th Asian Games.
A day after India’s protest was rejected, an inconsolable Sarita, accepted the medal after much persuasion but refused to wear round her neck. Later she left the medal at the podium as the spectators at the Seonhak Gymnasium looked stunned. The medal is now in the custody of the organisers but Sarita is staring at a possible ban from the AIBA international body.
A day after India’s protest was rejected, Sarita was seen crying incessantly on the podium even as her fellow bronze medallis Vietnam’s Thi Duyen Luu tried to comfort her.
It reminded many of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, when Swedish wrestler Ara Abrahamian threw away his bronze medal on the match in protest following a highly controversial semi-final defeat. Abrahamian was also banned for two years and fined by world body FILA for his action.
During the medal ceremony here, Sarita handing over her medal to Park before giving her a hug and left the ceremony. A visibly rattled Park also left the medal on the podium before making her exit.
Sarita defended her action saying otherwise it would have stayed in her mind for the rest of her career.
“It’s not that I did not want to accept the medal. I accepted it and then gave it back to the Koreans. I had to do this to continue with my boxing career or the memory of this incident would have stayed on in my mind. I would now go back and hug my infant child,” she said.
The Manipuri boxer, who was ready for any any consequences of her actions, also blasted the Indian officials for their apathy.
“I am prepared for any consequences. Not one Indian official came to us and consoled or even spoke to us,” she said.
The former World Champion boxer Tuesday was completely shocked after she lost the lightweight (60kg) semi-final to Park, who ended up as the silver-medallist. While judges surprisingly declared the South Korean as the winner, Sarita was clearly the better of the two boxers.