Shooters level gun tampering allegations against top rifle coach

| | New Delhi
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Shooters level gun tampering allegations against top rifle coach

Wednesday, 29 May 2024 | PTI | New Delhi

A reputed national coach has been accused of tampering with rifles of some shooters by their parents, a charge that has been vehemently denied by the national federation, which has urged the aggrieved individuals to file a complaint.

One of the parents of the allegedly affected shooters, who declined to be named, told PTI on Tuesday that he had to purchase a new equipment for his ward after the original rifle was "spoilt" by the coach. They also refused to reveal the coach's identity.

"Yes, my ward's gun was spoilt by the coach. We had to buy a new one because of that. How can the coach just come and do all these setting changes (alter the settings) without the approval of the shooter just one day before a world Cup," the father of the shooter said.

"It happened during the ISSF World Cup in Bhopal last year. Not only this, every other match also, the coach does it, whenever the coach goes abroad, all these things are done."

"Earlier, parents used to travel with the shooters... When we are present the coach doesn't touch the gun. The logic the coach gave (for changing the settings) was 'you need to experiment'. But experimenting just a day before the World Cup, what experiment are you doing?" he asked.

The father also alleged that a lot of shooters had met the NRAI (National Rifles Association of India) officials and brought it to their notice.

"There was a meeting held in NRAI in front of all the shooters and shooters also told the NRAI these things. The federation has promised they will look into it. The NRAI knows about it," the father added.

NRAI secretary Rajiv Bhatia refuted the charge, saying he was not aware of any such instance.

"I have no idea, nobody has approached us. We have not received anything. I don't think so (this has been done)," Bhatia said.

"Even if such a thing has been done, they (shooters) should have the guts to come forward, why these allegations come up once they are not selected? The Bhopal World Cup happened in March last year, so much time has elapsed," he added.

Another parent of a rifle shooter alleged that the coach had an "old record" of tampering with guns.

"My ward had gone to play a World Cup and the the coach had tampered with the gun in connivance with a jury (member). The coach has an old record of tampering with guns.

"We have not brought it to the notice of NRAI as we fear retribution from the national body," he alleged.

Two more shooters write to NRAI on Olympics

Air rifle shooters Nancy, who finished fourth in the Olympic Selection Trials recently and Tilottama Sen, placed third after the OST, have written to the NRAI requesting the federation to be considered for the Olympics.

While Nancy is a 'deemed quota winner', Tilottama bagged the Paris quota at the Asian Championship in South Korea last year.

In her letter, Nancy has said that more than just the trials, "an athlete's overall performance of the last one year and his/her international matches should also be considered."

"My world ranking is third and my India ranking before the trials was No.1 besides I am a deemed quota winner," added Nancy in her letter to the NRAI.

She has also listed her scores in international competitions before the trials to strengthen her case.

Tilottama's father, Sujit Sen, has said that his daughter lost out to Ramita for the 10m air rifle Paris berth because of an amendment done by the NRAI to its selection policy in November last year.

Contingent for Munich World Cup

It is learnt that NRAI, in its selection committee meeting on Monday, decided to send the top-three position-holders in the Olympic Selection Trials to participate in the ISSF World Cup in Munich (May 31-June 6).

The remaining two have been cleared on no-cost to government and will compete only in the Ranking Points Only (RPO) category.

RPO shooters are those, who even if they top the qualification round, cannot enter the finals and fight for medals.

In 10m air rifle, Elavenil Valarivan, Ramita and Tilottma will compete for medals by virtue of being the top-three finishers in OST, while Nancy and Mehuli Ghosh can only compete as RPOs.

Nancy, however, has decided to skip the World Cup.

A source told PTI that Mehuli should not have been included in the RPO category as the NRAI's policy states that all those securing Olympic quotas "should play as main player and not RPOs," said the source.

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