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New controversy over trials

other Updated: Jan 17, 2010 00:43 IST
Saurabh Duggal

That all is not well with the National Rifle Association of India’s (NRAI) selection criteria was apparent on the first day of trials to pick the women’s 10m air rifle team for the third and fourth World Cups — in the U.S. in May and Serbia in July.

None of the three shooters—Priya Aggarwal, Ayonika Paul and Neha Sapte — picked for the Commonwealth Championship, scheduled for Delhi next month, figured in the top three. Aggarwal placed fifth, Paul eighth while Sapte could not even make it to the top-eight. The NRAI chose them for the Commonwealth Shooting Championship and the first two World Cups (scheduled for Australia in March and China in April) on the basis of earlier trials, including the national championship at Jalandhar in November 2009.

The scores of the Asian Air Gun Championship held in December were considered.

On Saturday, a different bunch came to the fore. Radhika Barale placed first, Mampi Das was second and Suma Shirur third.

Funnily enough, none of them figure in the Commonwealth Shooting team. While the final team will be selected on the basis of the average score of Saturday and Sunday, the whole deal is getting a bit confusing.

“We can’t understand why the NRAI is selecting the team for a competition that is going to held in May and July so early,” said an international shooter who declined to be named. “After today’s trials, it appears that there may be different teams for the first two World Cups and the third and fourth World Cups,” he said.

“ Even if a shooter wins gold in the first two World Cups, she will not be in the national squad for the others,” the shooter added.

When HT asked Avtar Singh Sethi, senior vice-president of NRAI, about the trials, he had said: “We are sticking to the ministry’s guidelines.”

That may be so but then the NRAI alone decides on dates for the trials. The role of the ministry is only to approve them.