New Delhi: The National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) today sought to justify its decision to select Heena Sidhu ahead of Athens Olympics silver medallist Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore in the 11-member squad for the London Olympics.
"We will do not deny merit... merit has to be the sole criteria in a measurable sport. Heena has been consistent and yesterday she shot 385 (at practice) which, in our opinion, is an Olympic final score," NRAI president Raninder Singh told reporters.
One of the criteria for selection is consistency of performance at A-level tournaments, besides international rankings, which favours the youngster from Patiala.
"Heena is ranked 17th in international ranking out of 193, while Rathore is 47th and three Indians are ahead of him," Raninder said.
"Heena has been undertaking some mental and technical training at her own level as she knew her chances (of earning berth) were bright," he added.
Raninder said that Rathore`s final score did not the "inspire" the selectors enough to give him a ticket to London.
"Rathore`s final score of 128 didn`t inspire confidence in the selectors. The bias must be dispelled. We have been as transparent as humanely possible.
"In Rathore`s case we do not think, in any way, this is the end of his career. It is time for him to take stock and go further. The selection is not an in-house procedure done by the NRAI. We requested two government observers," Raninder clarified.
Asked why trap shooter Mansher Singh was still provided funds under NSDF (National Skill Development Fund) despite missing out on an Olympic berth, Raninder said, "Mansher has been receiving funds under NSDF. It is a policy to support our international shooters. He has been consistent, missing the quota by just 1 point."