Swastika Ghosh, who represents Maharashtra and is currently India’s No. 4 table tennis player, is set to tread the path of fellow-paddlers Diya Chitale and Manush Shah. Ghosh, it has been learnt, is in the process of filing a petition challenging her omission from the Commonwealth Games squad. Chitale and Shah had moved court on June 3 and Monday, respectively.
Incidentally on Monday, Chitale was included in place of Archana Kamath whose selection generated a lot of controversy. The SD Mudgil-led selection committee, appointed by the Committee of Administrators (CoA) who run the Table Tennis Federation of India, brought in Chitale as the fourth player and Ghosh as standby.
“Swastika has decided to file a writ petition in the Delhi High Court. Keeping her as a standby is an insult,” Sandip Ghosh, Swastika’s father, said.
Last week, the selection committee included Kamath’s name (subject to the Sports Authority of India’s clearance), despite the paddler not meeting the selection criteria.
It was argued that Kamath and her doubles partner Manika Batra — they are the world No. 4 — would have got top billing in the women’s doubles event of the Commonwealth Games and were seen as genuine medal prospects.
After SAI, in a June 6 letter, said the selection process is a matter of the national sports federation, thereby putting the ball back in CoA’s court, the selection committee had no other option but to follow the existing rule.
Under the present rule, which is likely to be changed from October, performances in domestic and international tournaments are given 50 per cent and 30 per cent weightage, respectively, while the remaining 20 per cent depends on the selectors’ discretion.
Mudgil defended the decisions and said those were taken in the interest of the country.
“Our conscience is clear. We had put the nation first. The doubles and the mixed doubles are the two areas where Indians can win a bagful of medals in the Commonwealth Games.
“That’s why Archana was in the provisional squad. The SAI also agreed we had a point but in the end we decided to follow the existing rule. Now Diya will partner Manika,” Mudgil told The Telegraph.
The aggrieved paddlers, however, had alleged that the selection policy was changed at the fag end of the calendar year because most of the “high-flying” players had very poor ranking and could not have made it to the squad.
In the men’s squad, Shah though remains as a standby.
S. Raman and Anindita Chakraborty are the coaches of the men’s and women’s squads, respectively, for the Games to be held in Birmingham from July 28 to August 8. Interestingly, Raman is the personal coach of Sathiyan Gnanasekaran and runs a coaching academy and that could put him under the glare of conflict of interest.
This will be the first major assignment for Chakraborty, the former Bengal table tennis star and multiple-time runner-up in senior nationals. “Looking forward to the Commonwealth Games,. Hopefully we will do well,” Chakraborty said.