National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) president, Raninder Singh, asserted on Tuesday there was no bias in the swapping of the London Olympic Games quota, earned by 50m rifle 3-position marksman Imran Hasan Khan, and giving it to promising 10m air pistol shooter Heena Sidhu.
The quota swap in favour of Heena had caused heartburn in the shotgun fraternity and Army as they felt that Athens Olympic Games silver-medallist RVS Rathore was the rightful claimant for an Olympic berth.
The right choice
“As far as consistency in performance in A-class events and trials is concerned, Heena is considered higher than Rathore. We gave Rathore three bonus points for the world record-equalling performance at the inaugural Asian Shotgun Championship at Kuala Lumpur in December last year. But those points were not for quota swap…they were only for replacing one shooter with another in the same event. For quota swap, we went with consistency and as per our benchmark Heena came at No. 2, while Rathore was at No 7,” said Raninder.
“Heena’s international ranking was 17th, while that of Rathore was 47th and three Indians were ahead of him on that count also,” he said.
“Besides, Rathore’s volatility of scores too went against him. Though he had a world record-equalling score in December, his last score of 128 was hardly convincing.
“There is no bias towards the Army or Rathore. The best selection criteria have been applied. Contrary to reports, the ministry never questioned our selection and never sought a dialogue on the issue,” said the NRAI president, adding that the ministry had earmarked a sum of Rs 13 crore for the 11 Olympic-bound athletes towards their training, hiring of personal coaches and support staff.
“In order to ensure maximum returns from our shooters, everyone will be given individual support staff,” he said.