Boycott CWG, says Jaspal Rana on 2022 Games shooting snub

Despite concerns raised by shooters worldwide, and national federations, the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) has made it clear that shooting is only an “optional sport”, which will not feature in the 2022 Commonwealth Games, in Birmingham.

Impressed with the young shooters’ progress in recent times, multiple Asian Games medallist, Jaspal Rana, said that they will be competing with themselves in the upcoming Commonwealth Games, in the Gold Coast. (File Photo)   -  Rajeev Bhatt

Amid speculations about shooting’s future as a CWG sport, renowned pistol shooter Jaspal Rana, on Friday, called for the country’s boycott of the Commonwealth Games (CWG), as a mark of protest .

Despite concerns raised by shooters worldwide, and national federations, the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) has made it clear that shooting is only an “optional sport”, which will not feature in the 2022 Commonwealth Games, in Birmingham.

“The government has to fight for that, not us. Because if they keep moving the events in which we are good at, that is not good for the country. Boycott the competition, don’t shoot in the Commonwealth Games. China did not shoot in four Olympics, and when they came back, they made a clean sweep,” Rana, one of the finest exponents of pistol shooting in the country, said.

He added, “The government now is doing a lot for the athletes, in terms of funding and exposure. It’s a very positive development, and the sportspersons have benefitted.”

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In a letter to the 2022 Games organisers, in February, CGF CEO David Grevemberg said, “Shooting will not feature at the 2022 CWG, and the CGF has awarded the Games supporting these plans.”

Grevemberg though made it clear that the sport was not being scrapped, insisting that it remained in the optional category, which a host city can pick in a particular CWG.

“In response to erroneous media reports, the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) would like to clarify that shooting has not been ‘scrapped’ from the 2022 Commonwealth Games, in Birmingham, England,” Grevemberg had said.

India is second in the CWG’s all-time medal list for shooting, having won 118 medals so far — 56 of them gold, and axing the sport from the Games is a blow for the country.

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Impressed with the young shooters’ progress in recent times, multiple Asian Games medallist, Rana, said that they will be competing with themselves in the upcoming Commonwealth Games, in the Gold Coast.

“Commonwealth Games is important, but the competition is less there, we are competing with our own shooters there.” he said. Asked further about the young shooters, he said, “They will fall and they will bounce back. They are just 14-15 years, so it’s like up and down. Discipline is key for junior shooters to rise.”

NRAI to help shooters in junior to senior transition

The National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) has proposed an initiative, under which the training and funding of promising shooters, making the transition from junior to senior category, will be taken care of.

Morad Ali Khan, former India shooter, and member of the selection committee, said: “What was happening earlier was when the juniors were moving into seniors, there were a large number of shooters, who were little uncomfortable transiting, from juniors to seniors. So, for a two-year period, we are trying to put them into a separate category, and give them all the funding that is required, for training, and they will be coached by the senior coaches also."

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“That would make them comfortable, and once they find that they are comfortable, the next lot will come in. So, it will be a continuous process. As of now, it’s 64 shooters, but then, events keep changing. There will be four shooters per event. This will be functional from next nationals,” he added.

Talking about the programme, Pistol coach, Jaspal Rana, said: “That’s very important, because there are lot of kids who can’t come to that senior level. For any sportspersons, that one-two year can destroy their careers. They should be given all the facilities, and whatever money is given, should be accountable, and they should monitor it. Because, a lot of times now, money is destroying players.”

India delivered its  best-ever performance at the ISSF World Cup in Mexico, winning four gold, one silver and three bronze, to top the medals tally, for the first time.

After such a historic performance, the likes of Shahzar Rizvi and Manu Bhaker, who made their maiden World Cup appearances, a memorable one, by winning the gold medal, in their respective pistol events, are hoping for more support.