Sarita Devi Boxing
Sarita Devi (R) has a word with Park Ji-Na of South Korea during the medal ceremonyReuters

Say what you may about Sarita Devi's decision to forego her bronze medal, and, especially, the manner which she went about doing it, one thing you cannot deny is the courage and pluck it took.

To stand in front of a host of Asian Games bigwigs and millions watching live on TV, and to refuse her bronze medal, while tears poured down her face, takes a lot of courage, and that, in the end, is something to be admired.

It is not easy to stand up to anything in this almost-never-nice world, and while, in the overall scheme of things, what Sarita Devi did will not change anything too much, it will at least make the officials of the next big games think twice before meting out extra special partiality for the hosts – be it South Korea or any other country.

Sarita Devi, at the medal ceremony for the women's lightweight boxing category on Wednesday, was bold and courageous when she refused to take her bronze medal, which she won automatically as a result of her controversial loss to Park Ji-Na, a bout which the Indian utterly dominated.

Once the medal ceremony was over, Sarita walked over to where her bronze medal was lying, picked it up and went across to Ji-Na who "beat" her in the semifinals, and put the medal over the South Korean's neck, while saying: "This is for you and all Korea, because you only deserve a bronze."

"It was a protest for all the sportsmen and women of the world against injustice in sport."

While that is commendable, the manner in which Sarita Devi decided to protest has not gone down too well, even amongst people in the Indian team's camp.

"We all sympathise with her but she should realise that winning and losing is a part and parcel of sports, you win some and lose some," an official who did not want to be named told PTI.

"What happened sets a bad precedent. She's a top boxer and her behaviour will give wrong ideas to youngsters who look up to her."

And, of course, as if right on cue, the 2014 Asian Games organisers lamented Sarita's decision to publicly refuse the bronze medal.

"She needs to respect the official ruling and show sportsmanship. Her actions were not sportsman-like," Son Cheon-taik, deputy secretary general of Incheon's organising committee, said on Thursday.

"The Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) is working on the review of the medal, whether or not to give it to her or confiscate it. So, they are deciding what to do with it."

But then, does Sarita really want that medal now? Maybe, India (read IOA) can keep it, but, after all the hue and cry, surely the point that she tried to make will become, well, pointless, if the medal is forced on her.

The protest, after all, was about the boxer trying to show the world that she did not need the bronze; a silver -- which is what the Korean boxer Ji-Na won eventually, as she could not cope in the final – was the bare minimum.

Maybe, it is time for the Indian Olympic Association to show some courage, and not let their athlete, who has put in tireless amount of work just to have a shot at glory, for little or no reward, walk that almost unwinnable path alone.

Support should be the most important word at the IOA, and if they cannot even support their own athletes, what is the point of such an organisation, really?


Sarita Devi will get her bronze medal, whether she wants it or not, with India's chef de mission Adille Sumariwalla confirming the news.

"I attended the OCA working group hearing this morning and expressed regret over what happened at the medal ceremony (of the women's 60kg group) yesterday," Sumariwalla was quoted as saying by PTI on Thursday.

"I told them it had happened in an emotional moment. The OCA has reinstated Sarita Devi as the bronze medal winner. The medal will come to us tomorrow morning."

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