Exclusive: Have shooters let India down?


Digvijay Singh Deo,CNN-IBN
Jul 18, 2013 at 08:25pm IST

New Delhi: Be it the Olympics, Asian games or Commonwealth Games, India's shooters have always delivered. But has that success come at a cost? CNN-IBN has learnt that on more than one occasion, the reputation of the Indian flag has taken a hit.

Shooting has been India's most successful sport at international multi-discipline events, with four Olympic medals including the first ever individual gold at Beijing in 2008. But that success seems to have bred an unhealthy trend. An ugly reality that the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) has been at pains to hide. The sport is afflicted with huge discipline issues across the board.

"We have summoned all our national squad - senior and junior - and we are going to clarify all these issues of discipline. We are not going to take any nonsense on this any more," Raninder Singh, Presiden NRAI, said.

The recent allegations of sexual harassment levelled by a female shooter were the tipping point. CNN-IBN has learnt that be it the senior team or junior team, Indian shooters are crossing the line way too often.

"Our seniors, off course, are far more settled, far more professional. They are matured individuals and they have seen a lot in international shooting. But it doesn't mean that there are no indiscretions committed by the seniors also. There are also issues with regards to our officials," Raninder clarified.

There is a complete lack of team spirit, with team members in certain disciplines hardly on speaking terms with one another. There have been repeat instances of shooters breaking curfew, in some cases even the day before a competition. Some have even turned up under the influence of alcohol for official practice.

"We have seen certain things how things have been. We would like to change certain things. But we would like the youngsters to come and follow certain things that are already in place," Samresh Jung, Member Athletics Commission, said.

CNN-IBN has been told of shooters who have behaved inappropriately with female hotel staff at foreign competitions. There have been instances of vandalism on foreign tours, with rooms being destroyed. Also not many are happy with elite shooters skipping tournaments despite being funded by the government.

Alarmed at these developments, the NRAI has asked its athletes commission to come up with a code of conduct and a clear message will be sent out that no more indiscretions will be tolerated.

The NRAI says it is serious about tackling the problem. That claim will be tested at the ongoing national camps and the Shotgun World Championships in September.

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