World Championships: NRAI bungles in team selection

September 17, 2022

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In a shocking case of favouritism, two shooters who do not feature in the top-30 of the national rankings have been selected in the Indian squad for the World Championships, to be held in Cairo on October 12-25.

Sanjeev Kumar Yadav, who was part of Delhi Police’s special cell until recently, will represent India in the men’s 25m centre-fire pistol event and the mixed team standard pistol event with Rhythm Sangwan. Sangwan has won several medals at International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) competitions.

Vishwajeet Singh will also appear in the 25m centre-fire pistol event. The third shooter in the event, Omkar Singh, is the only one who is part of the all-India rankings list. Omkar, who is being funded by the Navy for the trip, is at the top of the rankings.

Yadav and Vishwajeet will travel to Egypt at their own cost. The selection policy of the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) says that ordinarily no shooter shall participate in more than two World Cups annually and there will be no participation in international competitions at “own cost”.

Despite this, the NRAI wanted to know whether Rajkanwar Singh Sandhu and Gurpreet Singh, the India No. 2 and 3, respectively, in the centre-fire event, wanted to travel to Cairo on their own cost; both refused.

It is understood that the Sports Authority of India (SAI) had told the NRAI that the government will not fund shooters in non-Olympics categories.

The selection policy further states that the team will consist of the top three ranked shooters in all the categories. What is surprising is that both Yadav and Vishwajeet do not figure in the list of the top-ranked shooters in the 25m centre-fire pistol discipline.

Yadav is also not part of the rankings list in the standard pistol event. His entry in the mixed team event is surprising as the selection policy clearly states that only the top-ranked shooters must be selected.

“How can they be sent when they are not part of the rankings list at all? I am told that their scores were such that they weren’t able to take part in the trials,” said a source.

“I get that both centre-fire and standard pistol are non-Olympics disciplines and they are going at their own cost. Does it mean that tomorrow, anybody who is not part of the list can go to other competitions?” the source added.

Not the first time

Yadav’s profile on the ISSF website has no mention of him representing the country in any of the international federation’s competitions or continental competitions.

Yadav was also a surprise entry in the 25m centre-fire pistol team event at the South Asian Games in Kathmandu in 2019. While Yogesh Singh and Gurpreet had won gold and silver, respectively, in the individual competition, the team had finished second because of Yadav’s low score of 542 points.

“We were kept in the dark about his participation at the South Asian Games too,” another source said. “All of us were under the impression that the centre-fire pistol competition will not be held. Out of nowhere he was put in the team. Something similar is happening with the World Championships team. No one had any idea as to how his entry was sent for a prestigious event,” the source added.

Meanwhile, the NRAI said that Yadav’s inclusion in the team did not mean there was any wrongdoing in the team selection. The NRAI secretary general, K Sultan Singh, told The Tribune that the body has not done anything wrong in this matter.

“The names have not been sent while ignoring deserving shooters as none of the shooters have complained. They are going on their own,” Singh said.

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