Mumbai: Indian pugilist L Sarita Devi, banned by Amateur International Boxing Association (AIBA) for one year, is all set to meet retired Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar here on Wednesday. When the boxer’s career looked in jeopardy, the cricket icon stood up for her. He also urged the nation to support her. Sarita had refused to accept her Asian Games bronze medal at the podium in Incheon after a controversial bout.
“Along with my husband, we took an appointment to meet Sachin. We wanted to meet and thank him for his gesture. He did a lot for me. Talking to him will also motivate me and I will feel like working harder towards my goals,” said Sarita. Tendulkar had met Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal to discuss the boxer’s predicament. He also wrote a personal letter to AIBA in an effort to save her career.
Apart from training and rectifying her flaws during the forbidden period, Sarita’s eyes will also be glued to the television. Why? “I have been a cricket fan and I will watch the ICC World Cup. Though I feel bad that Sachin will not be playing. He has left a void in Indian cricket. We used to wait for his batting. The way he carried the trust of so many Indians on his shoulders is remarkable,” she added.
But the 29-year-old is hopeful that Mahendra Singh Dhoni and company can retain the world title. The boxer, who underwent a wrist operation in November, will start undergoing fitness endurance tests in Bangalore from February, organized by Olympic Gold Quest (OGQ) – a non-profit organisation that supports athletes. Former India hockey player Viren Rasquinha and Chief Operating Officer of OGQ said: “Sarita’s focus is to be the fittest boxer in the 60kg category in Rio Olympics 2016.”
“Viren has always helped me whenever needed. I thank OGQ for taking care of me. Now the only focus is the gold medal in Rio. All my concentration will go into the ring and I will prove how good a sportsperson I am,” said Sarita, who seemed to have overcome the Incheon episode. “I am not thinking about it anymore. Mulling over referee’s decisions and the past will only bog me down,” she added.