August 25, 2000
Kunjarani appeals to Dhindsa
Onkar Singh in Delhi
Sports Minister Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa has directed the Indian Olympic Association to submit a report within 24 hours on the selection procedure adopted by the Indian Weightlifting Association while selecting two women weightlifters and dropping former international Kunjarani Devi from the Indian squad for the Sydney Olympics.
"Kunjarani Dev met me this afternoon and she submitted to me a memorandum, in which she has made some allegations about the selection procedure that was adopted by the ad-hoc selection committee.
"I have already sent the papers to Indian Olympic Association president Suresh Kalmadi and asked him to send me back the report by tomorrow (Saturday) afternoon. Let us see what they say. Then I will decide what to do next," Dhindsa told rediff.com on Friday evening.
Speaking on behalf of Kunjarani, Wing.Commander P K Mahanand said the selection was highly biased against Kunjarani as she did not get along with coach Pal Singh Sandhu, who, he alleged, went out of his way to recommend Sanamacha Chanu.
"Kunjarani had lifted 205 kilograms in the 48 kg weight category. And she is only 12 kgs short of the World record of 217kgs. She has 21 medals to her credit in World championships and 52 medals in other international events.
"Besides Malleshwari, if any other woman weightlifter can bring a medal it is Kunjarani. She has been discriminated against because she is 32. The best weight lifters mature only after the age of 30. It is one thing to lift the weight in the nationals and another thing to lift the weight in international competitions.
"While Sanamacha lifted 197.5 kgs in Osaka, she failed at the Athens World Championships, failing in all her attempts to lift and scored zero," alleged Mahananda.
" I was shocked when I learnt that I have not been selected despite strong recommendations by the foreign coach, Lenoid Taranenko. He has sent a fax to the weightlifting association, in which he clearly mentioned that I am a medal hope. But this fax was totally ignored," Kunjarani told newsmen after submitting her one-and-half page memorandum that included three annexures to Dhindsa this evening.
The ball is now in the IOA's court. It remains to be seen whether the IOA will bow to pressure and include Kunjarani Devi in the list of participants, or tell the minister that the selection committee was right and Kunjarani cannot be included.
Mail Sports Editor
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