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Will fight against “manipulated” draw with higher authorities

After securing India’s maiden women’s singles squash medal at the Asian Games, a vindicated Dipika Pallikal has said she will continue to fight against the “manipulated” draw with higher authorities after being let down by the officials back home.

Pallikal, who lost to World No.1 Nicol David in the semifinals on Monday, said she was pleased with her marathon winning effort against teammate Joshana Chinappa that assured her of a bronze on Sunday, especially because it proved the “authorities and her doubters” wrong.

“This win (against) was really important for me. Some people thought I did not want to face Joshana when all along I maintained that the draw was manipulated. And I still feel the same even after I have won a medal for my country. Imagine we could have won two medals if Joshana was in the other half. For future, I am exploring options how I can pursue this matter,” Pallikal told PTI from Incheon.

For one, Pallikal has the option of appealing to the ad hoc division of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) set up at the Incheon Games. The CAS is an arbitration institution founded in 1984 and specialises in the resolution of sports law disputes.

The first Indian to break into world’s top-10 had considered pulling out of the Games after expressing her displeasure over the draw pitting her and Chinappa in the same half. She even wrote to the Indian squash federation (SRFI) but said she did not even get a reply. The SRFI had refuted Pallikal’s claims.

“This apathy of authorities doesn’t bother me anymore. I have been dealing with it ever since I was 14. Whatever I have done, it is my own effort and the support of my coaches and family. Besides that, there is no better feeling than representing India and walk around wearing national colours.

That is mainly why I made up my mind to play here,” said Pallikal.

While the women’s draw courted controversy this time, top male player Saurav Ghosal had won back-to-back bronze medals in Doha 2006 and Guangzhou 2010 beating compatriots Ritwik Bhattacharya and Siddharth Suchde respectively in the quarterfinals, leading to allegations of a fixed draw.

The Chennai-born Pallikal, who turned 23 on Sunday, narrated how she felt in the run-up to the Games.

“The whole episode took a toll on me and I shut myself off from everything else for sometime. I was determined to prove all of them wrong. I especially need to thank my trainer (Basu Shankar), who convinced me to take part in the Games,” she said adding that fiancé and cricketer Dinesh Karthik also helped her get out of the tough phase.

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