New Delhi: India’s top-ranked female table tennis player Manika Batra has dropped a bombshell.
She has alleged that national coach Soumyadeep Roy had asked her to throw a match during the Olympic qualifiers in March, which was the reason she refused his help during the Tokyo Olympics singles event.
Asked to show cause for her behaviour by the Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI), Manika denied having brought disrepute to the game by refusing Roy’s help at Tokyo, reported PTI.
According to TTFI sources, the world No. 56 explained that she wouldn’t have been able to focus on her matches if someone who had earlier asked her to indulge in match-fixing sat in the coach’s corner.
“Besides the need to avoid disturbance due to his last-minute intervention, there was an additional and much more serious reason behind my preference to play without the national coach,” the Khel Ratna awardee stated in her response to TTFI.
“The national coach had pressurised me during the qualification tournament in Doha in March 2021 to concede my match to his student to enable her qualify for Olympics — in short, to indulge in match-fixing,” she alleged.
Manika was referring to Sutirtha Mukherjee, who trains at Roy’s academy in Kolkata. Both Manika and Sutirtha represented India at the Tokyo Olympics.
“I have evidence of this incident and I am ready to present it to the competent authorities at the appropriate time. For asking me to concede the match, the national coach personally met me in my hotel room and talked to me for nearly 20 minutes,” said Manika.
“He tried to promote his own student using unethical means under the pretext of national interest. He was accompanied by his student who trains in the private academy not only run by, but also named after him.
“From my side, I did not promise to oblige him and promptly reported this matter to a TTFI official. I decided not to obey the unethical command of the national coach. But his intimidation and pressure had its effect on my mental frame and consequently my performance,” Manika claimed.
“During the Olympics, I wanted to keep away from the demoralising effect of such a coach. Because, as a player representing India, it was my duty to serve my country in the best possible way,” stated Manika, who reached the third round at Tokyo while Sutirtha reached the second round.
Roy, a former men’s national champion and Commonwealth Games gold-medallist, was not available for a response to Manika’s charge.
The TTFI will decide on its future course of action after hearing from Roy.