Army?s shot in the arm
Indian goldfingers are certainly on a roll. The latest confirmation comes from Abhinav Bindra who grabbed the gold medal in the men’s 10m air rifle at the 49th World Shooting Championships in Zagreb, Croatia. Bindra traded the leading position five times before beating stiff competition to take the first spot.
The nearest Indian shooters had come to hitting bull’s eye in the World Championship was in 1962 when Maharaja Karni Singh won the silver at Cairo. It wasn’t until Jaspal Rana won India’s first individual gold medal at the Hiroshima Asian Games in 1994, that the country’s ambitions were triggered, and Indians started confidently talking about winning medals. But alas, there doesn’t seem to be any support or sponsorship to match that confidence. Indian shooters clearly need to get more exposure and more competition. While in other nations a shooter takes part in scores of competitions each year, only a couple of competitions are organised here. In fact, if not for the backing of the Army, it’s doubtful if even Rajyavardhan Rathore could have done so well at the top level. India is yet to have a coach, and most of the time shooters fend for themselves in getting cartridges and other accessories. A national camp in Delhi was once actually cut short, as the Sports Authority of India (SAI) didn’t have the ammunition for participants!
It’d be a shame if nothing were done about the poor state of SAI’s three ranges that cater to 16 shooting events as they could cost India medals at the next Olympics. A lot now depends on the ‘Mission Olympics’ taken up by the Army to bring in modern equipment and set up new shooting ranges with electronic targets.