The Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) is bemused why star player Manika Batra remained silent for more than five months and then levelled serious charges against national coach Soumyadeep Roy that he tried to influence her to lose in an Olympic Qualification tournament in March this year, only after being served a show-cause notice in August for indiscipline.
Manika had made history at the Tokyo Olympic Games by becoming the first TT player from the country to reach the third round at the Games before losing to Austria’s Sofia Polcanova.
In a controversy that has been festering for some time now, Manika had refused national coach Roy’s help during her singles matches in Tokyo after her personal coach Sanmay Paranjape was not given FOP ‘field of play’ access due to limited accreditations handed out by the Tokyo Games Organisers.
On her return from Tokyo, TTFI served Manika a show-cause notice for indiscipline and asked her to explain her refusal to allow Roy to sit courtside and help her during her matches.
Manika in her response to TTFI’s show-cause denied charges of indiscipline and instead alleged that national coach Roy had “pressurised me during the qualification tournament in Doha in March 2021 to concede my match to his student to enable her to qualify for the Olympics”.
Speaking to IANS from Lucknow, TTFI secretary general Arun Banerjee said that when Manika’s personal coach Sanmay Paranjape was not accredited for ‘field of play’, there was no way he could sit courtside and guide Manika.
Banerjee said that national coach Roy has still been asked to respond to Manika’s allegations and he will send his reply by Monday.
Banerjee said that the TTFI had always kept the interest of its players ahead of everything else and that is why when Manika came to him seeking permission to take her personal coach (Sanmay Paranjape) along to Tokyo, we immediately cleared it. Ditto for G Sathiyan. “If players feel they can perform better by taking their personal coaches along, why should we object,” added Banerjee.
“However in Tokyo, the Games Organisers only gave ‘P’ accreditation to personal coaches from all participating countries, no exceptions made. Personal coaches were not given access to FOP (field of play)”. No exceptions were made for any country, so how could Manika get her personal coach inside the FOP,” questioned Banerjee.
“Just before her opening-round match, Manika started putting pressure (on us) that she wanted her personal coach in the FOP. How could we ensure that when it was not allowed by the Games Organisers. She then refused the help of national coach Roy, which really set a bad precedent,” said Banerjee.
“On her return from Tokyo, we served her a show-cause notice, and in response she has levelled these charges against national coach Roy,” said Banerjee.
Banerjee questioned Manika’s logics behind waiting for five months to allege that national coach Roy had pressurised her to concede her match to his student during the Olympic qualification tournament in March.
“Why was she silent for so long? She has levelled these charges only when we served a show-cause notice to her last month (for indiscipline). Why didn’t she bring it to our notice in March? What was stopping her then?” added Banerjee.