Distraught after losing her controversial semifinal bout, Indian boxer L Sarita Devi today stunned officials and spectators by refusing to accept the bronze medal, which is now in the custody of organisers.
The lightweight (60kg) boxer was in disbelief yesterday when she lost against home favourite Jina Park, who ended up as the silver-medallist. Sarita was clearly the better of the two pugilists but the judges thought otherwise.
The Indian subsequently also lost an appeal against the judges’ decision and today tearfully made her way to the medal ceremony.
Crying bitterly on the podium, Sarita first refused to wear the medal before handing it over to Park after sharing an emotional hug with the home boxer.
The former Asian and world champion then left the ceremony. Park, visibly rattled by the turn of events, left the medal on the podium and made her exit.
Sarita appeared to be a clear winner in the bout yesterday, dominating the proceedings with such ferocity that Park barely managed to stand the assault. But much to the shock of the Indian contingent and the spectators, the judges awarded the bout to Park.
A sobbing Sarita later told reporters that she had to do what she did at the medal ceremony to continue with her boxing career or else it would have stayed in her mind.
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.
She was ready to accept the consequences of her actions but also accused the Indian officialdom of being uncaring in the whole episode.
I am prepared for any consequences. Not one Indian official came to us and consoled or even spoke to us, she said.
I don’t think it was a free and fair trial. That gave me more motivation to prove myself and I did. I worked double hard to achieve this. Now I am happy to give the gold for my country, Mary Kom said.
About the bout she said it was even-stevens to start with as the Kazakh fighter was a very good opponent.
In the first two rounds I could not catch her up. She was very fast and very strong. But in the third and fourth I caught up and it was easier to connect my punches, said Mary.
I will prepare for the World Championships (in November in Korea) and try and qualify for the Rio Olympic Games, she added.
After the close first two rounds, Mary started landing good blows on her rival’s face and even body. A solid right hook followed by a left in the third shook the Kazakh pugilist.
She got a unanimous verdict in the third round and kept her aggressive intent in the fourth to earn the verdict and the coveted gold.
It was the third women’s medal for India from the ring, after the bronze medals won by L Sarita Devi (women’s light weight) and Pooja Rani (women’s middle weight).
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