The recently-concluded Tokyo Olympics was one of the most successful campaigns for the Indian contingent in history of the competition. However, it was nothing short of controversy as well. One of the talking points during the Olympics was the fact that Indian table tennis star Manika Batra was seen playing her matches in the absence of national coach Soumyadeep Roy by her side. Instead, the 26-year-old was seen receiving instructions from her personal coach Sanmay Paranjape sitting in the stands.
Although Manika had a dream run in Tokyo where she managed to reach third round of women's singles event against all odds, she had received a showcause notice by Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) as they considered the player's behaviour as an act of indiscipline. However, Batra has now finally broken her silence on the issue with some shocking claims which has left everyone absolutely stunned.
Match fixing in table tennis in India?
"The national coach had pressurized me during the qualification tournament in Doha in March 2021 to concede my match to his student to enable her to qualify for Olympics - in short- to indulge in match-fixing... 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.
Reflecting on her decision to play in the absence of Soumyadeep Roy in Tokyo, Manika added that she wanted to keep herself away from the demoralising effect of such a coach because she felt that it was her duty to serve her country in the best possible way, as a player representing India.
TTFI refuted the issue outright: Manika Batra
The 26-year-old also questioned the federation for their failure to act promptly on the issue. Batra claimed that she had reported this matter to a TTFI official who has not yet taken any action against Soumyadeep Roy.
Manika said, "I have been falsely charged with 'bringing disrepute to the country by the sight of an empty chair of the coach'. But the truth is that the 'empty chair' was the result of the national coach's pressure tactics for match fixing and TTFI's inaction to act on my prompt reporting of that incident and not the result of my so called indiscipline."
She revealed that she had raised the issue of the match fixing pressure tactics by the national coach again in her e-mail dated 14th August 2021, but TTFI refuted the issue outright without even a preliminary, impartial and transparent inquiry. "Finally, to reiterate and summarise, I have done nothing wrong in playing my matches alone," concluded Manika.