BFI to conduct trials for World Championships following Chaudhary challenge of Borgohain spot in court

Arundhati Choudhary won the 2021 National Title in the 70kg division. Jonathan Selvaraj

The Boxing Federation of India (BFI) has told the Delhi High Court that trials will be conducted in order to select the team that is to compete at the women's world championships (WWC) in Turkey. This comes a month after reigning world youth champion Arundhati Chaudhary sought legal recourse after being denied a chance to compete for the Indian team in favour of Olympic bronze medalist Lovlina Borgohain.

The issue began after BFI announced that gold medal winners of last month's national championships would comprise the team for the WWC. However, the federation also announced that an exception had been made for Olympic bronze medalist Borgohain, who competes in the same weight division (70kg) as Chaudhary. The reasoning given was that since Borgohain had just won the Olympic medal, she wouldn't have had time to prepare for the National Championships. In Borgohain's absence, Chaudhary won gold.

After learning that she would not be part of the Indian squad, Chaudhary had written a letter to the BFI president, stating that "...Lovlina is out of practice since [the Olympics] and if I have given opportunity for trail (sic) I have real chance of winning medal for India..." She had added, "The very basic of sport is the concept of fair play and the need to keep proving oneself each and every time. Even Olympic gold medalist[s] have to fight again to qualify to represent their country. Sir, I look for no favours. Just fair play. Whether Lovlina Borgohain, or I, or any other boxer qualifies after the trail (sic) we can at least sleep at night knowing that every one of the candidates got the best possible opportunity to make India proud at the World boxing championships 2021."

Chaudhary's demand for a trial gained even more weight after the International Boxing Federation (AIBA) announced that the WWC, originally scheduled to be held in December this year, was being postponed owing to a surge of COVID-19 cases in Turkey.

This postponement was cited by the BFI as to why they would be conducting trials after all. In the hearing on Tuesday, the BFI announced that since the WWC would be held in May next year, trials for the Indian team would be conducted likely in April.

While Chaudhary has got her wish for a trial, her advocate Sandeep Lamba has further asked for the trials to be video recorded as well as broadcast on the BFI's YouTube channel in the manner the national championships had been. As such, the BFI has been directed by the High Court to furnish an affidavit by January 24, explaining just how the national federation will conduct the trials.