After much speculation, delay and controversy regarding the selection of the ‘trap’ team, the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) announced a 33-member squad for the Doha Asian Games. The team included, among others, world champions Abhinav Bindra and Manavjit Singh Sandhu.
Bindra had given rise to speculation about his participation when he had asked chief national coach Sunny Thomas to include a reserve, in case he could not participate because of a back problem that has been troubling him for the last one year. He had also missed the trials at Indore because of the problem.
Manavjit was in the news after finishing two points behind three others in the trap trials held at the Karni Singh Range, and due to this an unseemly controversy had arisen about the selection of the trap squad.
Manavjit had 255 points in the trials and was placed behind the trio of Mansher Singh, Zorawar Singh and Birendeep Singh Sondhi, who all had 257 points.
However, the selectors decided not to disturb the tested combination of Manavjit, Mansher and Anwer Sultan as they had done the country proud at the World Championships in Zagreb and the Asian Clay Shooting in Singapore.
The controversy has, however, left a bad taste in the mouth of those who were left out. For one, why did the NRAI decide to hold the trials when they had a successful team in Manav, Mansher and Anwer?
In the process Zorawar and Birendeep — nursing hopes of going to the Games after topping the trials — have been needlessly caused hurt and agony. For Biren, it has been all the more frustrating as he had recently lost his gun in transit on his way back from the US. Despite that, he took the trials and excelled.
There were no surprises in the team as Olympics silver-medallist RVS Rathore, World Cup bronze-medallist Sonia Rai, Gagan Narang, Samresh Jung and Anjali Bhagwat all made the cut.
The team comprises five men and an identical number of women in air rifle, nine pistol and three women in pistol and three men each in trap, double trap and skeet events. There are a total of 25 men and eight women in the team.
Anjali Bhagwat will once again miss her pet 10m air rifle event. Suma Shirur makes a comeback after a layoff with her superb scores behind topper Tejaswini Sawant in the trials.
Pemba Tamang (Rapid fire), Vijay Kumar (Rapid fire, Centrefire), Rahul Pawar (Rapid fire), Ronak Pandit (Standard, Air), Jaspal Rana (Standard, Centrefire), Samresh Jung (Standard, Centrefire, Air, Free), Deepak Sharma (Air), Bapu Vanjare (Free), Zakir Khan (Free), Sanjeev Rajput (Free, Rifle 3-pos), Gagan Narang (Air rifle, Free rifle 3-pos), Imran Hasan Khan (Free rifle 3-pos, Free rifle prone), Abhinav Bindra (Air rifle), PT Raghunath (Air rifle), Surendra Singh Rathore (Free rifle prone), Sushil Ghaley (Free rifle prone), Ronjan Sodhi, RVS Rathore, Vikram Bhatnagar (all three Double trap), Mansher Singh, Manavjit Singh Sandhu, Anwer Sultan (all three Trap), AD Peoples, Miraj Khan, Man Singh (all three Skeet).
Sonia Rai, Harveen Srao, Shweta Choudhary (all three Air pistol), Avneet Kaur Sidhu, Suma Shirur (both Air rifle), Tejaswini Sawant (Air rifle, Sport rifle prone, Sport rifle 3-pos), Anjali Bhagwat and Deepali Deshpande (Sport rifle 3-pos, Sport rifle prone). Officials: Jagjit Singh (manager), Sunny Thomas (national coach), DVS Rao (coach), Deep Bhatia (coach), Syed Wajid Ali (coach), PS Sodhi (coach), Laszlo Szucsak (foreign rifle coach), Csaba Gyorik (foreign pistol coach), DK Shukla (armourer).