Lifters forced to play in different category, barred from competitionPallavi Chaudhary, an Eighth Grader from Kathmandu, was high on confidence when her parents accompanied her at the Nagar Bhawan for the eighth National Games weightlifting events. But her confidence and enthusiasm came crashing down after she was barred from competing in the event
Pallavi Chaudhary, an Eighth Grader from Kathmandu, was high on confidence when her parents accompanied her at the Nagar Bhawan for the eighth National Games weightlifting events. But her confidence and enthusiasm came crashing down after she was barred from competing in the event, all because of utter negligence from the coaches.
Pallavi, who followed in the footsteps of her mother Shanti to join the sport, had trained in the 45kg weight division for over six months and made the cut for the Games following Province 3 selection. Pallavi, a junior silver medallist in the Inter-cub Weightlifting Competition in Kathmandu, was hopeful of striking gold only to see herself unlisted for the event.
When the Chaudhary family came to the weightlifting venue, coaches forced her to compete in 55kg division category for which she would require another few months to prepare, telling her name was not listed in 45kg. “She broke down in tears and sadly it was the manner in which she was treated was more disappointing,” said Shanti, herself the seventh National Games gold medallist in the 75kg division.
Although the Chaudhary family hails from Saptari, Province 2, Shanti had asked Pallavi to represent Province 3 because she would be under supervision of her parents and would prepare well. It ultimately turned out that the family supervision alone was not sufficient in helping achieve her dreams. “The Province 3 coach (Ashok Shahi) responsible for the registration of the players told me that Pallavi was listed in the 55kg division although she clearly stated in the form that she would compete in the 45kg. I don’t know how responsible people can make such mistakes,” said Shanti.
Pallavi, however, was not the only lifter who fell prey to the negligence of coaches. Shirish Rajbhandari, a 73kg lifter, had to face protest and humiliation after he was told to compete in 89kg weight category. Rajbhandari, who returned after an eight-year stay in the US and took crossfit coaching job at Gymkhana in Kathmandu, was later told to compete in 81kg weight category.
The Province 3 player Rajbhandari had no other options but to relent. To add to his misery he also faced protest from lifters of departmental teams’ players to return home dejected. “The coaches don’t have any idea about the selected players because they come to join the Games at the last moment,” said Rajbhandari making some serious allegations. “There are few players who have not even turned up for the Games but they are still registered for some events. The reason is simple as coaches take the allowance and sports gears allotted for players. The last minute change in weight division of players is also because they want to fit in such ‘phoney” lifters,” alleged Rajbhandari.
“Coaches Ratna Mali and Shahi were aware about my weight division as well as that of Pallavi but I was surprised when I found myself in 89kg category. I was told to compete in 81kg for which I agreed. When I came the other day, my name was still registered for 89kg division,” he added. “I came to know that the coach (Shahi) wanted to field a lifter he favoured in 73kg instead. I clearly said that I would compete in 73kg weight category but when I came here, I found out that the registration form had been tampered and I was instead listed in the 83kg division.”
Coach Shahi gave an immature statement blaming the players for the confusion. “Both the players didn’t coordinate with us during the time of registration. There is an official team, including myself, which looks after the registration and we put their weight categories by ourself,” said Shahi. “We were in a chaotic situation during the time of registration because of our obligations of looking at venues and other technical aspects.
We didn’t put too much of emphasis on registration and that was where we made the mistakes,” Shahi added.