Special Correspondent

‘Selection process aimed at protecting big players’

To meet Union Sports Minister to present her case

NEW DELHI: She has packed up her bow. “I may never be allowed to compete again,” said archer Reena Kumari, protesting against her exclusion from the team to Beijing Olympics next month.

Reena recounted her side of the story on the “flawed” selection process adopted by the Archery Association of India.

“I am a victim of the selection process which was aimed at protecting some big players. My name figured in the team announced earlier and then one more trial was forced upon us.

“I was under pressure and did not fare well and that gave the selectors the chance to drop me,” bemoaned Reena here on Thursday.

According to Reena, she had made the grade by topping the second and third trials held at Meerut and Kolkata.

“Why did the AAI then force another trial when the team had already been selected,” she asked even as she produced a letter from the AAI Secretary General Paresh Nath Mukherjee. The letter announced the selection of Reena along with Dola and Bombayala for the Olympics.

Reena claimed she had approached the AAI president Vijay Kumar Malhotra, who had asked her to attend the trials even though she had fared better than Dola Banerjee at the World Cup in Turkey. “Now, Mr. Malhotra is asking me as to why I gave the trials when I had been already selected. I fail to understand this selection process.”

Reena also alleged that at the last trials held in Kolkata from June 25 to 29, there was no selector present.

Mr. Mukherjee refuted Reena’s claims. “We have picked the best team through a very transparent process. The trials we had were open and the competitors had 27 days to prepare. It is unfortunate that Reena has chosen to go public when her charges are out of place.

“She has not achieved anything of distinction in the last two years while Dola has been our greatest achiever. Even Dola went through the trials and qualified on merit. There has been no unfair process in selection,” said Mr. Mukherjee.

Reena is planning to meet Union Sports Minister M.S. Gill on Friday to present her case.

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