The National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) has requested the Sports Ministry to include the names of three shotgun shooters -- skeet marksman Angad Vir Singh Bajwa and women’s trap shooters Manisha Keer and Preeti Rajak -- in the Asian Games contingent to raise the country’s medal hopes at the continental event.
The NRAI, in its provisional list for the Asian Games scheduled to commence in Hangzhou, China on September 23, had recommended all three shooters to be included in the contingent but the ministry removed their names from the final list issued last week.
Angad Vir achieved the qualifying mark set by the ministry at the ongoing ISSF World Championships in Baku, while the trio of Manisha, Preeti and Rajeshwari Kumari finished fifth in the team trap event at the Worlds.
The women’s trap team, following its performance in Baku, is ranked second in Asia behind China and fifth in the world. Rajeshwari also secured a Paris Olympic quota for the country at the World Championships.
Now, with Angad having shot 121 at the World Championships and attained the ministry’s laid-down qualification norm -- an eight-place score in the previous Asian Games -- the NRAI has asked the government to clear his name along with the two women trap shooters.
“We are trying to get the names of Manisha, Preeti and Angad cleared from the ministry for the Asian Games. The representation is already with the Sports Authority of India (SAI) officials. We are struggling or fighting to get these three names cleared,” NRAI secretary Rajeev Bhatia told PTI on Monday.
A source in the know of things had told PTI earlier that Angad and the two women trap shooters had been sent “notices” by NRAI on Sunday that they would not be going for the Asian Games because they did not meet the ministry’s selection criteria for the quadrennial event.
The source also said that a woman shotgun shooter not ranked among the top-six in the country was also being considered by NRAI to be recommended to the ministry by removing either Manisha or Preeti, both of whom train at the Madhya Pradesh State Shooting Academy.
However, NRAI president Kalikesh Singhdeo said no such notices had been issued.
“No notice has been issued by the NRAI. There is no question. In fact, SAI and the government have basic criteria that if you have not come in the first eight score in the last Asian Games, you are not allowed to go in the current Asian Games, that is the government’s policy for all sports where scores and timings are considered (for selection).
“Angad had not got the (eligible) scores up until the World Championships. His score of 121 at the Worlds makes him eligible to be part of the Asian Games. NRAI has sent a special request to the government to allow Angad to go since he has achieved the ministry’s laid-down qualification score now,” said Singhdeo.
“So, we have also made a request to the government that the women’s team didn’t have the qualifying score which is a top-six in trap (in the previous Asian Games).
“Now that Ria (Rajeshwari Kumari) has won the (Olympic) quota and we are ranked No.5 as a women’s team in the world and No.2 in Asia after the recent World Championships performance, we have asked for the women’s team to also be sent,” he added.
On whether there was a discussion within the NRAI selection committee to replace either of Manisha or Preeti with a shooter not among the top-six in the country, he said, “We are going with the policy.
“Unless and until some injury takes place and if an injury takes place to any shooter, then the next person as per the policy (will go). The policy will be followed to the tee,” said Singhdeo.
A senior official with the Madhya Pradesh State Shooting Academy said on the condition of anonymity that “We have heard through grapevine that Manisha Keer may not get supported by the government (to go for the Asian Games).” “We may have to pay for her to go (in order) to support her. We’ll do what we have to do to send her, whatever it is. We are waiting and watching.”
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