Abruptly kicked out of CWG team, Archana Kamath asks court to challenge ‘questionable decision-making’
The air around Indian table tennis has been hazy at best over the past few weeks, with paddlers unsure how to make sense of the team selection process used by the CoA-led Indian Table Tennis Federation which announced the team for the 2022 Commonwealth Games on May 31.
Fast forward to seven days later with plenty of rowdiness already breaking out in the camp over the inclusion and exclusion of some players – the CoA has released an “updated” squad list, bringing a drastic change.
The heart of this change concerns an Archana Kamath, the world No. 4 paddler in women’s doubles with Manika Batra who was included in the initial Commonwealth Games team as an “exception” because she did not meet the criteria for selection established by the TTFI, with appropriate justification also.
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“According to the existing selection criteria, one of the members (Archana Kamath) is not among the top four. The selection committee is convinced that the existing guidelines are wrong…However, in this transition phase, with a eyeing a rich medal haul at Birmingham, we have included the said player in the squad.She (Archana Kamath) is part of the doubles pair (Manika the other) who are ranked world No. 4 and will be the head series at the Commonwealth Games,” the CoA said in a statement.
So on June 7, when Archana, not feeling she could lose her place on the team, found out that the CoA had pretty much transparently dropped her and included Diya Chitale instead, her surprise and that of her family knew no bounds, as she confessed to The Bridge, days after the sudden exclusion.
“The pair of Manika Batra and Archana Kamath didn’t even see fit to play open doubles in the 83rd Senior National Championship (and that) calls into question their commitment to doubles events,” the CoA said of dropping Archana and including Diya, who enjoys a higher rank domestically but is ranked 129th in the world otherwise.
Morale Affected by CoA Decision: Archana Kamath
“I am surprised to have been selected at the beginning of the month and in a few days my name was withdrawn by the Federation”, says Kamath, 22 years old. The bridgeafter spending a week trying to gather his strength and collect his thoughts on all the mess that has since unfolded.
“It would certainly affect the morale of any professional athlete and the decision-making process itself is questionable,” Kamath lamented, after filing a petition in the Karnataka High Court challenging his disqualification. The first hearing in the case took place today.
The CoA’s “decision-making process” has indeed been “questionable” with several players moving the court – Diya Chitale, Manush Shah, Swastika Ghosh and now even, Archana Kamath, all seeking proper justification for the “arbitrary actions”. of the CoA.
For Archana, who trains at the Padukone Dravid Center for Excellence in Bangalore, the past few days have been difficult and have altered her spirit and natural zest for the sport in which she has always delivered performances.
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“I am saddened by the sudden decision of the Table Tennis Federation of India to exclude me from the Indian women’s table tennis team selected for the upcoming Commonwealth Games, Birmingham. I have proven myself time and time again and my performance at international level is not even taken into account,” exclaimed Kamath, who is also ranked 66th in the world in singles. Along with Manika, Archana also reached the highest ranking ever by a pair of Indian women’s doubles 4th in the world, to begin with.
His father, an ophthalmologist by profession, Dr. Girish Kamath is also surprised to see the decisions of the CoA regarding the selections.
“There was a lot of sadness at the start and quite difficult because we had to put our thoughts together and figure out what happened. We were all surprised because they (CoA) went back on the selections that were already announced,” said relayed Archana’s father.
“We believe Archana has all the merit, but the selection criteria only focused on certain aspects. Therefore, we have now moved the court and have full confidence in the judiciary,” he said. explained, noting that it was necessary to rush to court for such confusing reasons. The acts of the Federation have started to become a bad trend now, which also harms the overall image of Indian table tennis.
Archana’s next hearing is scheduled for June 22, meanwhile.
The saga regarding the CWG selections for the table tennis team has indeed snowballed now and it remains to be seen how the CoA led TTFI can clear up the situation, hopefully soon.