Pune: Ace shooter Gagan Narang has called on the government to take sports seriously and provide the Indian athletes with all the necessary facilities to help them prepare for next year`s London Olympics.
"The Government has to take sports seriously," Narang said.
"I wanted to go to Germany to select ammunition last year, but did not get visa. I asked the government, but did not receive timely help," the 28-year-old ace air rifle
Narang, a multiple gold medalists in the 2010 Commonwealth Games, felt that things are pretty much the way they were before the 2008 Beijing Olympics, primarily due to the restrictions imposed on rifles.
The Delhi High Court recently quashed a 1962 government notification that exempted the air rifle and air pistols from all the regulations and controls under the Arms Act, 1959, including the requirement of a valid license.
Under the present ruling, shooters can no longer use or posses air rifles and air pistols for their training and competitions without getting a proper license.
"We are pretty much where we were since we left in 2008 because of the restrictions on rifles. These restrictions, being put on the discipline that has won many medals and have maximum shooters taking part, will not necessarily hamper us in 2012, but in the longer run. The sport will decline.
"No doubt, the government support has gone up since 2008. But it needs to continue in the same momentum. Only then we will have definite chances of doing well, (and) not just go there to merely participate," Narang said here in a seminar on the sidelines of the National convention of the Sports Journalists Federation of India (SJFI) on Thursday.
Narang was also not convinced about the process of funding.
"An athlete has to be in the centre of attention of a sports federation. We have enough people to decide on funding but the amount of funding is a question. I wish things were better."
Narang also said that the standard has gone up over the years.
"Five years ago, when I entered the range, none recognised me. Now we already have seven shooters qualify for the Olympics so far. We no longer wait till the last qualification. Things have improved but a lot more needs to be done."