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NRAI Chief Backs ISSF's Decision to Axe Shooting Events, Defends Abhinav Bindra

National Rifle Association of India president Raninder Singh has backed the International Shooting Sport Federation's decision to axe certain men's events from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which will hurt India's chances. Speaking to CNN-News18, Raninder also defended Abhinav Bindra, who was heading the committee that took the decision.

Shikharr Chandra | CNN-News18

Updated:March 3, 2017, 2:28 PM IST
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NRAI Chief Backs ISSF's Decision to Axe Shooting Events, Defends Abhinav Bindra
Raninder Singh

New Delhi: India’s 63 member contingent finished with 5 medals at the 2017 Shooting World Cup, a much improved performance after what was a dismal showing at the Rio Olympics last year. The 2016 Olympics was the first time that India returned home without a medal in shooting since 2004 and numerous questions were raised on the performances of star shooters including the likes of Jitu Rai and Gagan Narang.

But with 2 medals to his name, including the country’s only gold, 29-year old Jitu redeemed himself at the Dr Karni Singh shooting range. The 2014 Commonwealth Gold medallist finished with a bronze in the 10m air pistol and followed that up with a gold in the 50m air pistol. But much to Jitu’s disappointment, his gold medal winning event will not be a part of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, after the ISSF decided to scrap three major events in order to provide more gender equality in the sport.

The international shooting federation have axed the men’s double trap, men’s 50m pistol and men’s 50m prone, three events where India have traditionally done well. The federation is now looking to replace them with three mixed gender events in order to meet the recommendations of the International Olympic Committee.

NRAI President Raninder Singh though stands by the federation’s decision, saying that while the decision will hurt India, it was something that could not have been avoided. “We are driven by the reality of the IOC extending its requirement for the implementation of gender equality in the 2020 gender equality agenda.”

“The three lowest performing events in terms of viewership, growth and stats were prone, 50m pistol and double trap, so it was those three that had to go, and when they had to go we had to replace them with events which provide equal quotas for both men and women,” he added.

A lot of Indian shooters have come out and spoken against the decision, but Raninder believes that in the long run it will only benefit the country at the major events.

“The great Jitu’s event will go, Gagan will lose one of his event but in the end we had to make a choice of going with 12 events or taking part in 15 with the addition of the mixed team events.”

The decision has led to a lot of criticism of Abhinav Bindra-led athletics committee, but Singh believes it is unfair to solely blame India’s sole gold medallist in shooting at the Olympics for the same.

“We cannot blame Abhinav Bindra for this. He is just one of the 13 that has to take a call. Putting the onus solely on him is unfair,” he concluded.

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| Edited by: Arnab Sen
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