Indian shooters bear the brunt of government decision

The recent government order to not award a cash prize to medal winners in sports where multiple World Cups/Championships are held in a year has poured water on the Indian shooters' scorching achievements.

Indian shooters

(L-R) Manu Bhaker, Divyansh Singh Panwar and Elavenil Valarivan had bagged individual gold medals at the World Cup Final in China, held in November last year.   -  ISSF

It was a watershed year for Indian shooting in 2019 when the nation topped the medals tally in all the four World Cups for rifle and pistol, putting the icing on the cake by winning the most medals in the subsequent World Cups Finals in Putian, China.

Not surprisingly, three shooters -- Elavenil Valarivan, Saurabh Chaudhary and Divyansh Singh Panwar -- finished the year as World No.1 in their respective categories, making them the favourites at the Tokyo Olympics. However, the recent government order pours water on their scorching achievements.

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Golden Target winners (from left) Divyansh Singh Panwar, Elavenil Valarivan and Saurabh Chaudhary with National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) president Raninder Singh.   -  Special Arrangement

 

"World Cups/Championships organised more than once a year will not be considered for cash award," states the recently amended government order for international medal winners.

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A gold medal at the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games gold will fetch shooters 30 lakh rupees each, while an Asian championship gold will see them pocket 15 lakh rupees. Even SAF Games gold will be worth three lakh rupees. However, a World Cup gold medal, where the shooters have to battle against the best in the world, won't fetch a single rupee.

One of the pioneers of Indian shooting, Anjali Bhagwat, who made the Sydney Olympics final and was later held in awe by the Chinese, put things in perspective.

"In 2001 and 2002, I got cash awards for all my World Cup medals. From 2003 onwards the government started giving it only for one highest medal in the year. Later, I don’t remember when, they stopped the cash award for World Cup medals," recalled Anjali. Ironically, she had won her first gold medals in 2003, both in the World Cup in Fort Benning and the World Cup Final in Milan. She was also one of the first Indian shooters after Mansher Singh in 1997 and Abhinav Bindra in 2001 to win World Cup medals.

Anjali Bhagwat had won four gold medals at the 2002 Commonwealth Games.   -  Sandeep Saxena



Olympic bronze medallist, Gagan Narang, said, "When we started winning too many medals, I think, it changed to cash award only for World Cup Finals."

The Indian shooters improved with every World Cup last year. It was three gold medals at home in Delhi, to three golds and a silver in Beijing. Thereafter, it was five golds and a silver in Munich, and then it rose to five gold, two silver and two bronze in the World Cup in Rio de Janeiro. In the World Cup Final in Putian, China -- the prestigious season-ending competition for the very best -- Manu Bhaker, Elavenil and Divyansh won the individual gold medals.

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Manu, Saurabh, Divyansh, Apurvi Chandela and Shahzar Rizvi also won the mixed competition medals when paired with foreign shooters.

India's gold medalists (from left): Manu Bhaker (2), Divyansh Singh Panwar (2) and Elavenil Valarivan (1).

India's gold medalists (from left): Manu Bhaker (2), Divyansh Singh Panwar (2) and Elavenil Valarivan (1).   -  ISSF

 

Most of them will be gunning for Olympic medals, when the quadrennial event takes place. Anjum Moudgil had won the Olympic quota with the World Championship silver, which was worth 25 lakh rupees cash award from the government. Angad Vir Singh Bajwa and Mairaj Ahmad Khan, who won the skeet Olympic quota with Asian Championship gold and silver, will get 15 and 10 lakh rupees respectively. Aishwarya Pratap Singh Tomar and Deepak Kumar, who won the Olympic quota with Asian championship bronze medals, will get five lakh rupees each.

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However, the likes of Saurabh, Abhishek Verma, Rahi Sarnobat and Yashaswini Singh Deswal, who won the Olympic quota with World Cup gold medals, will get nothing in return.

"You should look at the level of difficulty in deciding the quantum of the cash awards. We need to have sport specific awards. When someone becomes World No.1, he or she must have achieved something in the season. It is unfair that you neither reward the achievements, nor the rank," said Ronjan Sodhi, who himself had won many World Cup medals, apart from the Asian Games gold.