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NRAI bows to Abhinav Bindra's pressure

January 18, 2010 19:41 IST

Abhinav BindraAfter creating a furore by threatening to quit, Abhinav Bindra had his way with the shooting establishment, which agreed to consider the Olympic hero's international scores for inclusion in the team for the third and fourth World Cups later this year.

The National Rifle Association of India (NRAI), however, made it clear that Abhinav's inclusion in the first and second edition of the mega-event and the Commonwealth Shooting Championships is out of the question as the squads for the three events have already been approved by the Sports Ministry.

The NRAI has also requested Indian Olympic Association president Suresh Kalmadi to intervene and sort out the issue, which created a flutter after the Beijing Olympic Games gold medallist threatened to quit the sport.

"Being the IOA president, we have asked Mr Kalmadi to talk to Bindra and settle the matter. We have called his father, A S Bindra, for a meeting tomorrow and asked him to bring Abhinav's international scores alongwith him," NRAI secretary-general Baljeet Singh Sethi said on Monday.

"But Abhinav's selection in the first and second World Cup and Commonwealth Shooting Championships is impossible. We will consider his international scores for the next two World Cups.

"The teams have already been selected and the government has also given its approval, so we can't make any changes right now," he added.

India's first and only individual Olympic gold medalist Abhinav is upset at being repeatedly asked to appear in trials. He feels the NRAI should instead accept his scores in tournaments abroad for selection.

However, the Sports Ministry later deviated from its set norms and said any selection process that leaves out the best talents is faulty and it would have no issues if the NRAI exempts Abhinav from trials.

Abhinav, who has been training aboroad, is not included in the Indian squads for next month's Commonwealth Shooting Championships, in Delhi, as well as the ISSF World Cups in Sydney from March 20-28 and Beijing from April 16-25 as he failed to turn up for the selection trials.

However, after the recent controversy the NRAI decided to exempt the ace shooter from attending the trials for the next two World Cups, to be held in Fort Benning, USA from May 22-31 and Belgrade from June 26-July 7.

Asked whether Abhinav's exemption from trials would set a bad precedent, Sethi said, "Obviously, if we exempt Abhinav from trials other shooters will also demand such exemption in future.

"But when the government is us asking to do that, we can't do anything. We will have to sit with the ministry officials and work on this issue."

Sethi also made it clear even though Abhinav has been exempted from taking part in third and fourth World Cup trials, the shooter will have to go through the selection process for the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in October.

"The trials for CWG have not yet taken place but he will have to confirm his participation for the CWG trials," he said.

The fact that Abhinav will not be eligible to take part in the first and second World Cup has not gone down well with his father, who says it is for the "people of the country to think and decide on the issue".

"I am not aware of the news. I have been told by you (media) people only. I am very sad and hurt if authorities have taken such a decision. For such a big sportsperson like Abhinav they can take such kind of decision, it's sad," A S Bindra said in Chandigarh.

The senior Bindra suggested that the nerve of the nation should also be known on the issue.

"If they have taken any such decision, then I have nothing to say, because I am not aware of the details. I will contact them and put forward my request. And I will request media to look into it. You could ask the people of this nation what they want? Whether they want him to play or not?," the senior Bindra said.

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