Monika gets the nod

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Special Correspondent

BANGALORE: After a day long process of trials, deliberations and discussions, the Indian Weightlifting Federation (IWF) gave the nod to 23-year-old Monika Devi to represent India at the Beijing Olympic Games. Monika had a total lift of 224 kgs, two kgs more than her effort at the Pune trials, while Shailaja Pujari the second contestant for the lone slot fared well below her mark on Tuesday.

Monika Devi, who won a silver and a bronze at the Doha Asian championships, was overshadowed at the trials held in Pune late last month by veteran Shailaja. But the dope tainted veteran, who served her two year ban that lasted till February this year, was accused of bribing her way to the Games and forced the Union Sports Ministry to step in.

“In this second trials various aspects were considered: consistency over a period of time, present performances, previous efforts at the international level and most importantly a clean record in the 27 odd dope tests that she underwent went in favour of Monika,” said Baldev Raj Gulati, Secretary General IWF, after the deliberations here at the SAI South Centre.

Asked about the Sports Ministry’s directive to do away with this trial and select Monika after the bribery scandal that broke out against Shailaja and Gulati, the Secretary General claimed ignorance.

“Time to time the Federation is informed of the guidelines by the ministry and the IOA and there is no question of favouritism,” he said.

“Also the age factor and the wherewithal to withstand the pressure of performing at the international stage was in favour of Monika. However we have kept Shailaja’s case as standbye in case a wild card entry is made possible,” said Mr. Gulati. Monika Devi with a stupendous performance at Doha had won India a slot in the Summer Games.

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