Gymnasts Rakesh Patra who was earlier snubbed by the Commonwealth Games selection committee has been finally selected in the commonwealth squad. Patra along with Yogeshwar Singh were included in India’s Gold Coast-bound 7-member team. The decision came after the Indian Olympic Association accepted without objection the right of the Gymnastics Federation of India to pick the squad. It was vindication for 27-year-old Patra, who is considered a medal contender on the Rings and Parallel Bar, but had missed out on selection after the All around scores criterion was applied without prior notice.
Rakesh Patra and the legal battle for selection
Patra moved the Delhi High Court with a writ petition on Wednesday — last day to send preliminary squads to CWG organisers. The IOA relented while conceding that they were bound by the rules of the international body. “IOA had sent an email to their counsel who submitted to the court that while respecting the FIG request they were bound by GFI’s decision of the squad selection and they were ready to include Patra’s name in the team without further delay,” Adv Beno Bencigar, counsel for the gymnast said.
IOA were also caught on the wrong foot considering two of the gymnasts whose names they intended to enter — rookies Md Bobby and Gaurav Kumar — were yet to receive their international licenses.
“We dropped the two gymnasts because they did not have the necessary license to compete internationally. So we have added the names of Rakesh and Yogeshwar to the list for the Commonwealth Games and sent it to the organisers today,” an IOA official confirmed.
The controversy had erupted as the deadline to send the entries approached, and the squad wasn’t declared publicly, prompting the gymnast to suspect he would be omitted as gymnasts with All Around scores — in which India’s medal chances were next to none, would be considered . Patra said he felt upbeat now that the matter was resolved.
Rakesh Patra pumped up after selection
“I’ll focus on training now and work very hard. After the controversy, I want to prove that I can win a medal from CWG. I like performing with pressure and want to stay positive and not just reach the final at CWG, but also bring home a medal,” Patra said. “Gymnastics is my life, and I want to ensure that there’s no negativity in my equation with the selectors or coach. I want them to support me now, and I intend to be respectful towards them and not hold onto this,” he added.
Patra insisted that it had been a trying last month for him. “Nothing like this has happened to me before this. But good things in life come with obstacles always. God is always on the side of truth. I was worried since the trials and there was uncertainty because people kept telling me my name is there. I was hurt. when I realised they’d actually cut me out. But now everything is cleared,” he said.
Earlier, he had moved court as a ‘last option.’ “I did not want to leave a loophole. My only contention was that I was a better contender than those selected based on scores. Now, I want to really win and focus on my game,” he said.