For the random weapons check after each round, Heena Sidhu’s name was called upon for inspection. She had just shot an impressive 292 in the qualification round of the 25 metre pistol event at ongoing World Cup in Munich, Germany. The morale was high since her score gave her a genuine chance of making it to the finals, but for the equipment control officer finding a fault in her pistol’s trigger weight. Under Rule 188.8.131.52 of the International Shooting Sports Federation guidelines, Sidhu was disqualified for ‘Equipment failed re-inspection.’
For the 25 metre event, the required trigger weight should measure no less than 1,000 grams, yet the 26-year-old’s pistol fell short of that mark. “Normally shooters will tighten the trigger to 1050 gms. But it’s a sensitive piece, so it can shift during flights or even car drives,” says Asian and Commonwealth Games medallist Ashok Pandit, who is Sidhu’s father-in-law.
In turn, Ronak Pandit, Sidhu’s husband and coach asserts that Sidhu had cleared the checks on the previous day.
“We got equipment control done yesterday and it passed. Today in the random trigger weight check it failed. Weather variations do make a difference but usually not so much. A different weight though doesn’t make any difference to the shot. But it’s still a rule,” he says. “The test is not digital, so we just get ‘pass or fail.’ Sometimes the reading comes down to human error too. So it’s just a case of bad luck,” he adds. Along with Sidhu, two-time European champion in 10 metres air pistol Bobana Velickovic and multiple Olympic medallist, including 10 metre gold winner at the 1988 Seoul Games, Jasna Sekaric too were disqualified for the same infringement.
“It’s not very uncommon for people to get caught for this problem. It doesn’t mean any major damage to the pistol though. With an ordinary screwdriver, you just need to tighten the screw by turning 10 degrees in one direction. That’s good enough,” Ashok adds.
While Sidhu has been disqualified for the 25 metre event, she will still compete in her pet event, the 10 metre air pistol event, which demands a 500 gram trigger weight. Sidhu, who is the record holder for the 10 metre category and former World No.1 qualified for the Rio Olympics when she won gold at the Asia Olympic Qualifiers in New Delhi back in January. “This is just one more lesson they have to learn before going to Rio,” says Ashok.
Bindra finishes 15th
Abhinav Bindra finished 15th in the men’s 10m air rifle event with a score of 626.2. Bindra has been registering consistent scores over the last few World Cups but those have not been enough to make the final rounds.