Archer Reena questions Olympics selection

July 3rd, 2008 - 10:16 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 3 (IANS) Archer Reena Kumari, who was left out of the Indian Olympic team after the trials in Kolkata last week, slammed the Archery Association of India (AAI) alleging several discrepancies in the selection process and claimed that she was not picked despite being the best performer in the other two trials. Reena said she had come first in Meerut and Kolkata trials in May and she was told that she has been selected. But AAI decided to have another trial last week in Kolkata.

“I came fifth in the final trial and was not selected in the Olympics team. I was left out despite performing better than some other players at other trials and also throughout the year,” she said.

The Jharkhand archer claimed that she was not picked to accommodate other top archers, who were not in the best of form.

A heartbroken Reena said she had even written to AAI President Vijay Kumar Malhotra about her plight but did not get any response.

“I am running from pillar to post in Delhi for the past two days. I have no other option but to meet the Sports Minister now,” said Reena, who came straight from Kolkata after the trials concluded Sunday.

She said that earlier the AAI had said that top performers from the first two camps at Meerut and Kolkata would be selected for the Olympic team. Reena topped both trials and was selected accordingly.

“I was surprised when I was told by secretary Paras Nath Mukherjee that I will have to face another trial along with Dola (Banerjee) and others, who were in poor form in the three World Cups this year and also at the trials.”

“I was given no explanation when I asked Mukherjee as to why I should face another trial. My career is at stake now and I know that I may not compete again but I will fight this injustice,” Reena told reporters here.

Mukherjee strongly refuted the charges saying the selection process was “fair and there was nothing to hide”

“Dola and V. Pranitha were selected after a very fair trial last week in Kolkata and in that trial Reena finished fifth. Only two top archers got selected. We have nothing to hide. I do not know why she is saying all this now,” Mukherjee said.

The Indian women’s archery team for Olympics include Banerjee, Bombayla Devi and Pranitha.

India had earned three places through Dola, Bombayla and Chakrovolu Swuro for the Beijing Olympics but the berth goes to the country and according to norms the country should send its in-form players for the event.

Reena pointed out several discrepancies in the four selection trials and alleged that some of the players were in bad shape and were given too many chances to get into Olympic team.

Dola particularly had been in bad form since she won the World Championships in England. She finished 41st and 59th, respectively, in the San Domingo and Croatia legs of the World Cup earlier this year.

“A selection trial was called in Meerut after those two World Cups. The top-16 players were called and they said that the top-8 will have to again go through a final trial in Kolkata,” Reena said.

“I came first in Meerut. But after Meerut suddenly secretary Mukherjee told us that Dola and Bombayla have been selected in the team and they will not appear for further trials. We were told that seven of us will now fight for one spot for the Olympics.”

“I again topped in Kolkata and got selected for the third World Cup in Turkey from May 27. I was the top Indian archer there and finished 28th.”

Dola gave one of her career’s worst performance in that tournament and could not even make the cut-off for the Olympic round finishing 67th.

“I got a shock when I landed in India. I was told that I and Dola have been again called for trials in Kolkata,” she said.

“I have nothing against Dola but I have been slogging so hard for last one year.”

Reena’s best performance in her career came in the last Olympics where she finished 16th.

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