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Friday, Sep 20, 2019

Asian Games 2018: Jaspal Rana hits out at Abhinav Bindra for ‘wrong decisions’ as ISSF chairman

Jaspal Rana feels they could have won many more had Abhinav Bindra, “done his bit” when he was the International Shooting Sport Federation’s (ISSF) Athletes’ Committee chairman.

asian-games-2018 Updated: Aug 26, 2018 11:27 IST
Ajai Masand
Ajai Masand
Hindustan Times, Palembang
Former Indian shooter and coach Jaspal Rana.
Former Indian shooter and coach Jaspal Rana. (PTI)

India may have won nine medals at the Palembang Complex shooting ranges, but pistol king Jaspal Rana feels they could have won many more had another Indian shooting great, Abhinav Bindra, “done his bit” when he was the International Shooting Sport Federation’s (ISSF) Athletes’ Committee chairman for four years, from 2014 till 2018.

“We were the people who elected him. I mean the Indian shooters, coaches and officials, who were part of the contingent for the ISSF World Championships in Granada, Spain, in September 2014 voted for Bindra because he was a fellow shooter. But he removed some key shooting events, such as free pistol and 50m rifle prone events among others, where our shooters were really, really strong.

“Bindra headed the seven-member Athletes’ Commission for four years and now has been nominated in the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Athletes’ Commission. When he was the ISSF Athletes’ Commission chairman, he could have at least asked the members in the commission to keep free pistol in the mix. There was no opposition from the Indian side (Bindra) and the revised list of shooting events was cleared. We could easily have won 13-14 medals in shooting at the Asian Games here had free pistol and 50m rifle prone been there,” said Jaspal.

Bindra, a former rifle shooter, countered the allegation, saying, “Anyone who understands the matter knows that this was not a personal decision. Mr Rana must look at the holistic picture and not base his thinking on emotions and his relationship with industry. We have to remain part of the Olympic Movement and every international federation has had to alter its programme. The president of the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) also sits on the executive board of the ISSF.

“The decision was thoughtful, which involved a thorough process. ISSF’s decision was completely validated when the IOC’s event-based analysis ranked the dropped events last among the shooting sports,” added Bindra.

“Also, this was a unanimous decision of both the ISSF admin council and executive committee. An extraordinary general assembly was called for, which all federations attended and the matter was discussed and voted on by all member federations of the ISSF. The vote was completely in favour of changes,” said Bindra.

“If there was a problem with the ISSF decision, Mr Rana should have made sure the NRAI brought it up at the right forum,” added the Beijing Olympic gold medallist.

On the issue of certain mixed team events being included to bring gender equality as mandated by the IOC, Jaspal said, “This talk about bringing gender equality in the Olympic Movement is just fine, but at least a thought should have been given to what events were being added, retained or removed. The air pistol event has always been there and they added a mixed team air pistol event for gender equality in the curriculum, which I feel was wrong. Why didn’t he (Bindra) think about free pistol --- a slightly more expensive sport than air pistol as live .22 cartridges are used --- as it is as popular in India as air pistol?

“We had such a great mix of players like Jitu Rai, Karnataka’s PN Prakash and Amanpreet Singh in 50m pistol and today they are not part of the Asian Games contingent only because of one wrong decision (of the ISSF),” said Jaspal, winner of four Asian Games gold medals.

“The event that could have been axed was 50m rifle three-position, an expensive sport. I’ve seen three-position shooters coming for national-level events in buses and second-class railway compartments just to save money to buy equipment, which is expensive. The 50m prone event could have been retained and the three-position event removed from the international curriculum. The reverse happened.

“When we all voted for Abhinav, we didn’t know this would happen,” concluded Jaspal.

Bindra countered by saying, “Complying to agenda 2020 (Tokyo Games) and gender equality was not a choice; it’s something that was mandated,” adding, “The decision is extremely popular with young athletes worldwide, which again validated the ISSF’s decision as the sport has to think about the future.”

First Published: Aug 26, 2018 11:23 IST