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I was with Sarita. Were you?

I was with Sarita. Were you?
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MC Mary Kom will go down in history as the first Indian female boxer to win Gold at the ongoing Asian Games, and deservedly so. She has, time and again, proven that she is among the finest sportspersons this country has ever produced. In an interview to a newschannel, right after the medal ceremony, she said it is her passion for the sport that has driven her so far, that has kept her away from her little children, and helped her single-mindedly focus on winning alone. And, this passion is exactly what runs in another of our champion pugilist’s blood as well. Her name’s Laishram Sarita Devi.

I’m extremely passionate about sports, even though I’ve barely ever lifted a thing or, run a few meters. I love to watch almost all disciplines, barring golf (I’m yet to get a hang of it) and American football (honestly, looks like a bunch of astronauts going nuts about a humongous egg!). And, after
years of following most disciplines quite closely, I’ve now a fair knowledge of most, including boxing.

So, I knew exactly what happened in Sarita’s semi-final bout against Korea’s Park Ji-Na.

By now, most of us have seen footage of the same. It isn’t my place to get into technicalities since I’m hardly a specialist. But, that Sarita was the winner, fair and square, is something I’m willing
to shout from rooftops! Yes, both of them traded heavy blows in the first couple of rounds. But, Sarita had heavily punched Park into meek submission in the third (Park was KO-ed!) and fourth rounds. Had the Games officials been less corrupt and stayed true to the spirit of the game, Sarita would’ve been in the final, and who knows, maybe she could’ve won Gold and together with Mary Kom made history! I’m nobody to comment on her conduct following the match although at a personal level, I think she was honest to herself, to her sport, courteous towards her undeserving opponent Park, and not unsportsmanlike at any point.

Let’s first quite misusing this word- sportsmanship. Just because she cried her lungs out and in her own way tried to tell the world that she feels cheated, it does not mean she has indulged in behavior not befitting a sportsman! Are sportspersons not human? Can they not get emotional? Especially, when one has shown tremendous passion, conviction, talent, and courage at the highest level, made tremendous sacrifices(she stayed away from her year-old baby while training for the Games) and proven her mettle! If I were her I’d, probably, have knocked out the biased, unfair, cheating judges!
What doesn’t surprise me is the lack of empathy and support shown by the Indian officials. It just reinforces my belief that it is up to us- the regular people of this nation- to ensure justice for Sarita. I don’t know what could possibly lessen the pain for her- there won’t be a rematch, and she’ll have to wait 4 years for another attempt (which might be too late).

Perhaps an inquiry to get to the bottom of this ring rigging, or an apology from the organisers for using unfair practices to boost the host nation’s medal chances could bring some consolation. But, as a country, we must rally around her because she is in the right, and she deserves to know what exactly happened. And this, despite her apology and getting the medal back. As one of our most (in?)famous, much-ridiculed journalists says, THE NATION WANTS TO KNOW!

Malini Banerjee is a snotty single child, mountain junkie, playback singer, Austen addict, hopes to soon finish writing her debut novel, and dreams of singing alongside Buddy Guy
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