'My father came for the first time to watch my bout and I am sad that he has been here since morning but could not get tickets. An athlete is entitled to two tickets but we have not even been given those.'
There was no disgruntled coach to lock him out as shown in the Bollywood blockbuster movie Dangal, but Mahavir Phogat still missed watching daughter Babita Phogat's silver-winning campaign at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast on Thursday as he could not lay his hands on tickets to get inside the venue.
The legendary coach, whose life story has achieved cult status owing to the success of Dangal, was at the venue to watch defending gold-medallist Babita compete in the 53kg category. However, he could only wait outside as his daughter grappled inside the Carrara Sports and Leisure Centre on Thursday.
"My father came for the first time to watch my bout and I am sad that he has been here since morning but could not get tickets. An athlete is entitled to two tickets but we have not even been given those. I tried so much, but he had to sit outside. He couldn't watch it here and he couldn't watch it on TV either," an anguished Babita said, her voice choking.
Mahavir finally managed to make it inside after the Australian wrestling team came to Babita's aid and offered two tickets to her.
"He managed to come inside after I asked the Australian team for a couple of passes. They helped me get him into the arena. I had requested everyone, whether it's the IOA or chef-de-mission, I was requesting till 10 pm yesterday (Wednesday) even though I had bouts today and I had to rest," Babita said.
"It makes you feel bad. I spoke to everyone, including chef-de-mission," she added.
Chef-de-mission Vikram Sisodia said the tickets marked for wrestlers had been given to their coach Rajeev Tomar and it was up to him to distribute.
"We give what we get from Commonwealth Games Federation to respective coaches. We gave five tickets for wrestling; we gave those to Mr Tomar. I don't know why she could not get a ticket. Maybe the demand was too high," he said.
Asked whether all athletes should be treated at par when it comes to handing out accreditation to their parents, Babita said, "It was the first time my father came this far to see me fight. I feel sad he kept waiting.
"I don't care if he got accreditation or not; for me it was just a matter of tickets, that's all. At least he could have watched.
"But if one athlete's parent gets accreditation, others should also get. Why should just one athlete get that?"
Her answer assumes significance in the context of the controversy that was triggered by star shuttler Saina Nehwal's threat to pull out of the Games if her father was not given an all-access accreditation.
Chef-de-Mission denies issuing upgraded accreditation to shooter's father
India's chef-de-mission at the ongoing Commonwealth Games Vikram Sisodia denied issuing accreditation to the father of a shooter who tried to enter the athletes lounge at the Belmont Shooting Center in Brisbane.
"It has been reported in one of the newspapers that one of the shooters' father Mr Vinay Varman has been issued upgrade pass or accreditation from the Chef De Mission's office... no accreditation upgrade Pass has been issued from the CDM office to any shooter's father or to any personal coach from the shooting contingent," Sisodia said in a brief statement.
Double trap shooter Varsha Varman's father Vinay Varman had tried to enter the athletes' lounge at the range but was stopped by officials of the National Rifle Association of India.
Varsha finished fourth in the women's double trap event on Wednesday.