New Delhi: Suspended boxer L. Sarita Devi should be pardoned after apologising to the International Boxing Association (AIBA) for her conduct during the Incheon Asian Games medal ceremony, 2008 Olympic bronze medallist Vijnder Singh said here Sunday.
The Indian boxer's refusal to accept the bronze medal after controversially going down in a last four bout at the Asiad saw her getting provisionally barred by AIBA from competing in future competitions. The AIBA also barred chief national coach Gurbakhsh Singh Sandhu, foreign coach B.I. Fernandez and India’s chef-de-mission at the Games, Adille J Sumariwalla, from taking part in AIBA competitions until further notice.
"Anyone can commit such a wrong step at that point of time, particularly after investing all of one's energy in such a tough contest. She has made a mistake and has apologised since... Give her a chance," he said.
The 29-year-old boxer, while offering his full support to Sarita, said he feels the mental pain she underwent following her controversial loss and understands why she took such a drastic step.
"As a sport sperson I offer my support to Sarita. Only few athletes get a chance to play in a medal round match of Asian Games. And it takes years of hard work to reach that stage. And if you get such rough decisions on such a big stage, it becomes difficult for athletes to control their emotions. We sports persons are emotional people and we follow our heart rather than listen to our head in taking crucial decisions."
To make matters worse for Sarita, Boxing India (BI), under pressure from AIBA, Friday decided to issue show cause notice to Sarita's husband and personal coach for their unauthorised presence at the ringside during the Asiad.
He, however, refused to question BI's role in the controversy.
"I can't speak on the behalf of the federation. This is not a sporting matter any more. As a sports person I want her to be pardoned. Even Sachin Tendulkar has offered his support. Hopefully, she won't be given a strong punishment," the Padma Shri recipient said.
When asked about his own future plans, the middleweight boxer said he is only focussing on the World Championships to be held in Doha next year.
"There are no events this year. All important tournaments are next year. I will participate in the national camp for the World Championships if and when it is held," he said.