Suma Shirur is a world record holder in the 10m air rifle. She is also the only Indian woman to make it to the final round of an Olympic Games — in Athens, 2004. She was good enough to be the only Indian in her category at world shooting’s most prestigious annual extravaganza last October — the World Cup Finals.
Yet, she is not part of India’s 37-member squad for shooting’s Commonwealth Championships in New Delhi from February 17.
The National Rifle Association of India refused to include Shirur’s World Cup Finals scores in the selection criteria for the Championships, even though scores from the Asian Air Gun Championships in Doha — much below World Cup standard — were included. Shirur went to the World Cup Finals in Wuxi (China) in the middle of the domestic qualification trials in Pune. She topped the initial rounds at Pune, took silver in the nationals, and was even India’s best performer at Doha.
But, a series of complex calculations that take into account the preliminary and final round scores saw her fourth overall on the domestic radar — without the inclusion of the World Cup final scores. When the World Cup scores are included, she’s by far the best.
The NRAI’s logic for Shirur is this: They said they had already stated that they would take into account only the Nationals, domestic trials and the Doha event, so her World Cup mark was of no consequence, or the fact that she is a world record holder.
Shirur is livid. “There is something wrong with the selection system. When the Doha scores were considered, why not the World Cup Finals, which is a much higher rated event?” Every major competition should be considered, competitive international shooting is a far better indicator than conducted domestic trials,” she told HT.
National coach, Sunny Thomas, an NRAI vice-president, said Shirur made it to the World Cup because another, foreign shooter, withdrew. He did not mention that no other Indian woman made it in Shirur’s category. “We cannot change the criteria once it is publicised. Then other shooters will have objections.”
Shirur said the bane of Indian shooting was that there is no ranking system. “Once that’s in place, such issues will not crop up.” The other shooters who have been ignored for various reasons include Olympic gold-medallist Abhinav Bindra, silver-medallist RVS Rathore and former double-trap world record holder, Ronjan Sodhi.