Heena, Joydeep still waiting for Govt funds

New Delhi: Rising talents Heena Sidhu and Joydeep Karmakar have qualified for the London Olympics but are still waiting for the government funds, meant to be used for the two shooters` preparations for the sporting extravaganza, in July.

"Mittal Champions Trust is supporting us a lot but the government funds have still not come. It has been sanctioned but I and Heena have not got it yet. The federation has forwarded it to the ministry but we are still waiting for the funds," Joydeep said on the sidelines of a MCT programme.

Heena said she sent the budget proposal to government in February.

"I had sent a proposed budget from January to the Olympics, of around a crore which included training, travelling and coaching. But so far we have got no response from the sports ministry," she said.

"I sent in February while many of them sent in January. So far only four out of the 11 got their budget sanctioned. We do not know anyone in the sports ministry. The latest we heard was that it has reached NSDF and is in process.

"Right now it`s not affecting our training but soon it will," she added.

Heena and Karmakar were rewarded for their consistency as they were preferred over Army`s Imran Hasan Khan, 2004 Olympics silver medallist Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore and Hariom Singh after the various scores of the shooters were considered while picking the team.

While Karmakar was favoured over Hariom as he was leading in the 50m rifle prone, Heena figured in the list when the selection committee decided to exchange the quota won by Imran with Air Pistol women event.

Karmakar, who became the first shooter to qualify from Bengal in 24 years, said he was initially very tensed.

"I have been listening to a lot of what was going on regarding the selection problem and also read in papers."

"I didn`t know about it but later realised a lot of what was written about the Army pressure was right. I was tensed initially," Karmakar said.

"But I`m happy that truth prevailed and the selection was done very sportingly as the scorers were considered. The emphasis was on consistency and this is a result of my one and a half months of hard work," he added.

Heena, who will be working with mental performance consultant Pierre Beauchamp ahead of the Games, said the hoopla over her selection didn`t affect her.

"I didn`t know anything about it. The selectors and NRAI sat with the scores and they felt I was better so they selected me on merit. I am naturally happy. I always had the faith," she said.

Karmakar rued that there was no infrastructure in Bengal and that was the reason why no shooters have qualified from Bengal in the last two decades.

"The sport has been going down in Bengal, there is no range, no weapon, ammunition. There is zero infrastructure in Bengal," he said.

India`s first Olympic gold medallist Abhinav Bindra, who was also present on the occasion, said everybody is working hard and hoped for a better result this time.

"I have a bright chance and everybody has given their lives and souls for that one day, so we can expect good results in the Olympics. We will put our best foot forward, sports cannot be scripted, we are patient and anxious and in three months` time we will see the result," he said.

Besides Bindra, nine other athletes from the MCT have qualified to represent India at the Olympics and NRI steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal hoped London would be the best ever performance by the contingent.

"I hope that this should be the best ever performance by Indian contingent. These people have worked relentlessly for last 4-5 years. Some results will have to come. Let`s hope for the best," Mittal said.

"I would like more and more corporates to pick up few sports and focus on a few sports persons, create some kind of support organisation," he added.


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