NRAI makes a U-turn, to send Indian shooters to ISSF World Cup in Cairo

NRAI has said that pistol and rifle shooters will be picked on case basis. Image: X/OfficialNRAI

The National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) is considering the requests of several pistol and rifle shooters to compete in season-opening ISSF World Cup in Cairo in January a day after deciding not to send the contingent to the prestigious competition in order give it “rest” from the gruelling calendar.

A day after NRAI secretary-general Sultan Singh and assistant secretary Nimit Chopra said that India will skip the Cairo World Cup as coaches and the sports science expert wanted shooters to take time off and “recover”, it emerged that the federation had already cleared the shotgun exponents for the World Cup, while holding back the entries of pistol and rifle shooters.

With the Paris Olympics round the corner, several shooters had sought NRAI’s permission to compete in Cairo, even if that meant paying from their pocket, in order to improve their rankings and be in contention for a spot for the quadrennial Games when the federation holds four trials in May to select the best contingent for 2024 Paris.

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Several shooters, who were not in reckoning for the crucial trials in May just a few months back, have come into the picture on the basis of good scores in international competitions and domestic trials held recently.

NRAI senior vice-president Kalikesh Singhdeo conceded that several shooters had written to the federation seeking permission to compete in the Cairo World Cup.

“It’s right (NRAI has been approached). There are some issues about Cairo but the schedule which is made is done after due consultation with chief coaches and the HPD (high-performance director Pierre Beauchamp) and that is to provide shooters some time in between for rest and recovery and also some technical training,” said Singhdeo.

Asked why the shotgun contingent had been cleared while pistol and rifle shooters were not given that choice, he said, it was because the Asia Olympic Qualifiers in Jakarta were very close to the Cairo World Cup.

The Asia Olympic Qualification (pistol and rifle) are scheduled from January 5-18 in Jakarta, while the Cairo World Cup for pistol, rifle and shotgun is from January 24-February 1.

“Just before Cairo (World Cup), the Asia Olympic Qualifiers (pistol and rifle) is there, so it would have been (too much of a workload) for the pistol (and rifle shooters to compete in Cairo). Just 5-6 days after Jakarta would have been Cairo World Cup,” said Singhdeo.

Interestingly, the exact scenario is there for shotgun shooters as well, but they received the nod for reasons best known to NRAI.

The Asia Olympic Qualifiers (shotgun) in Kuwait are from January 12-22 but they were given the nod to compete in the Cairo World Cup just two days later from January 24.

“For some of the (pistol and rifle shooters), who have made a request on individual basis, we are looking into the matter. Cairo was conflicting with many back-to-back competitions.

“That’s not good for the shooters, especially the ones who we want to win (Olympic) quotas or whom we want to go and represent the country in the Olympics,” said Singhdeo.

“In certain cases where individuals have a chance of winning quota on the basis of QROG (Qualification Ranking Points for Olympic Games), certainly those will be considered. Some shooters who had opted not to go to Jakarta (Asia Olympic Qualifiers) because of whatever reason, even that can be considered,” he added.

“However, this needs to go through the drill of the chief coaches and HPD. Let shooters send requests to the NRAI chief coaches and HPD. There are ceratin people who are justified in going and we will consider all that,” he said.

Reminded that Saturday was the last date for sending entries, Singhdeo said, “I’m not sure about the dates now but I think we had some time… let me cross check,” he said.

NRAI secretary Rajiv Bhatia told PTI that the participation of pistol and rifle shooters in Cairo was “under consideration”.

He confirmed that the “entire shotgun team is going for the World Cup”.

Asked why two sets of rules were being enforced by NRAI, he said, “Shotgun has a separate plan, pistol/rifle have a separate plan. The policies are also different for both,” he said.

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