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Rajput misses out on CWG berth

other Updated: Sep 02, 2010 01:23 IST
Ajai Masand

The National Rifle Association of India's selection committee may have taken the right decision to not consider Athens Olympic Games silver-medallist, double-trap shooter RVS Rathore, for the Commonwealth Games after he skipped the trials recently, but some serious 'gaffes' have cast doubts over the fairness of selection for the sporting spectacle.

While all top shooters, including 10m air rifle Olympic gold-medallist Abhinav Bindra and pistol shooter Samresh Jung, have made the grade in the 28-member team announced on Wednesday, Navy rifle marksman, Sanjeev Rajput, despite his consistently good performance in competitions and trials, has been left out.

The shooter from Haryana shot a superb 597/600 in 10m air rifle trial at Pune on Tuesday.

However, he still could not get into the team because of three 'grace points' awarded to Bindra for his Olympic medal.

This is not the first time Rajput has been left high and dry.

The National coach, Sunny Thomas, in all his collective wisdom did not give exemption to Rajput, despite the rifle marksman suffering from poor health in June after being bitten by an animal.

The Navy man, suffering from high fever and receiving anti-rabies shots, was asked to undergo trials for the World Cups even as a top marksman's request for exemption was entertained.

Thomas conceded on Wednesday that Rajput was placed ahead of Bindra after the trials.

“But when we took into account the three 'grace points' Bindra earned, Rajput became third,” said Thomas.

Despite shuttling between Pune and Delhi to receive the Arjuna Award on August 29, Rajput shot a 597 in trials. Another top lady pistol shooter's plea for exemption from CWG trials because of ill health was rejected forcing her to skip the crucial trials.

But when some NRAI officials raised objections to Thomas' “preferential treatment”, a re-trial was ordered for the lady shooter for the Asian Games.

Another senior official said on condition of anonymity, that Thomas was also against the inclusion of World junior champion, Asher Noria, who clinched gold in double-trap at Munich recently with a world record-equalling score.

But finally good sense prevailed on the NRAI and the youngster got the nod.

Why this fuss?

“I don't know why Rathore is creating such a fuss when he figures nowhere among the top. By skipping the trials, he has saved himself a lot of embarrassment,” said an NRAI official.

“His average of international scores is around 130/150, whereas there are shooters who are shooting 140-plus scores,” he said.

Pistol marksman, Samresh Jung, though has made it to the squad, he would be competing in only one event — standard pistol — as against four at the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games.