Selectors have to take a call on shooter Rathore

New Delhi: Selectors of the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) sit down in Rudrapur in Uttrakhand Sunday to finalise the 11-member squad for the London Olympics and are likely to spend quite some time to decide whether to pick 2004 Athens Games silver medallist Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore or not.

The double trap shooter had failed to book an Olympic berth, but has been in good form in the last three-four months.

Eleven shooters have qualified for the London Games, but all are not guaranteed a place in the squad because the quotas are for the country and not for individuals. Rathore`s good form prompted the NRAI to ponder over the idea of swapping a quota place in another category to give the double trap exponent a chance in what could be his last Olympics.

Rathore came back strongly last year by equalling the world record en route to his gold in the Asian Shotgun Championship in Kuala Lumpur in November but he missed the Olympic quota by a whisker in tough windy conditions in the Asian Championships in Doha, in December, which was the last qualifying event for the London Games.

Chief coach Sunny Thomas, who is part of the selection committee, told IANS that Rathore has finished second behind Ronjan Singh Sodhi in the trials and the selection committee will take the final decision in Rudrapur, where NRAI president Raninder Singh, son of former Punjab chief minister Amrinder Singh, was scheduled to attend a political rally.

"Rathore has done well in the selection trials to finish behind Sodhi. Sodhi had 145.75 points and has the benefit of nine bonus points, as per selection policy. Rathore remained at number two with 138 and had three bonus points because of his performance during Asian Shotgun Championship where he equalled the world record," said Thomas.

Shotgun coach Marcello Dradi said Rathore deserves a place in the Olympic squad.

"Rathore is a world class shooter and I think by having him in the squad India will have more chances of winning an Olympic medal. I want him in the squad but the final decision is in the hands of the selectors," he said.

Chief coach Thomas said that the selection committee will also take into account medal prospects in different categories.

"The selection committee has also to take into account the medal prospects in different sections before taking the final call," he said.

NRAI`s senior advisor Baljeet Sethi said rules won`t be bent and shooters will be selected on merit.

"The scores are there for everybody to see and we will select only the deserving shooters. It is a matter of honour for the country and we will not be taking any chances," he said.

Gagan Narang, Abhinav Bindra (both 10 metre air rifle), Hariom Singh (50 metre rifle prone), Sanjeev Rajput and Imran Hasan Khan (both 50 metre rifle 3 position), Vijay Kumar (25 metre rapid fire pistol), Rahi Sarnobat (25 metre pistol), Annuraj Singh (10 metre pistol), Ronjan Sodhi (double trap), Shagun Chowdhary (trap) and Manavjit Singh Sandhu (trap) have qualified for the London Games.


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