Coach Soumyadeep asked me to lose a match: Manika Batra
India's table tennis star Manika Batra has alleged that her coach Soumyadeep Roy asked her to concede an Olympic qualifier match to Sutirtha Mukherjee in Doha in March. She made the allegations in her five-page response to Table Tennis Federation of India's show-cause notice. The federation issued the notice after Manika refused the help of Roy during her singles matches at the Tokyo Games.
Here is what Manika wrote
"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," Manika wrote.
Explaining the whole matter
Manika made headlines at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics during her singles matches. She did so after her personal coach Sanmay Paranjape was denied Field of Play (FOP) access due to a limit on accredited personnel by the organizers. As a result, the TTFI issued a show-cause notice to Manika. The federation termed Manika's decision an "act of indiscipline".
An act of indiscipline: TTFI
"It is surely an act of indiscipline. She should have let the national coach sit court-side during her matches just like the other players did. Roy has been one of India's best players and is a reputed coach now," TTFI secretary general Arun Kumar Banerjee had said. "The Executive Board will meet soon virtually and decide on the action against her for this indiscipline."
'Strongly deny the charge', says Manika
Manika believes she served her country and TTFI by playing her matches alone. She wrote, "I strongly deny the charge therein that I brought disrepute to TTFI, Government of India and the country and undermined the appointment of the national coach by playing my singles matches in the Tokyo Olympics without the presence of the national coach in the field of play."
Manika had reached the third round at Tokyo Olympics
Manika, in Tokyo, became the first Indian paddler to reach the third round at the Olympics. She had stunned world number 32 Margaryta Pesotska to reach the third round. However, her impressive run at the Tokyo Olympics came to end with a 0-4 loss to Sofia Polcanova. Batra, in 2018, became the first Indian woman to clinch an individual gold medal at the CWG.
Sutirtha Mukherjee also competed in Tokyo
Sutirtha Mukherjee, who qualified for Tokyo along with Manika, lost in the second round. Interestingly, the latter, in her recent statement, has accused coach Soumyadeep of convincing her to lose to Sutirtha in Doha in March. Notably, Roy is the personal coach of Sutirtha.