Renowned pistol shooter Heena Sidhu welcomed the ISSF Athletes Committee’s proposal to introduce mixed-gender team events in the Olympics though she felt sorry that its implementation would result in the removal of a few existing events from the Olympic programme.
“As a woman, I always felt that we didn’t have as many events as the men. So I feel it’s a very good step, but it’s unfortunate that some of the events would have to be removed,” Heena said here.
The first Indian pistol shooter to be ranked World No.1 by the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF), Heena tried to look at the bigger picture behind the proposed move.
“Look, a lot of changes are being mulled over in Olympic sports to bring down the rising cost. Brazil is an example and yes, one has to look at the larger picture,” she said.
The concept of mixed-gender event was implemented in the European Championships and Heena seemed positive about it.
“I thought it’s very interesting, people are more involved in the finals here,” the pistol ace said.
The ISSF panel, headed by Olympic champion Abhinav Bindra, has sought to replace the double-trap men’s event with a mixed-gender trap event, convert the 50m prone men’s event into a mixed-gender air rifle event and the 50m pistol men’s event into a mixed-gender air pistol event.
Heena has a point as the the decision followed the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) objective of international sport federations working towards a percent female representation at the Games.
Heena, who is also the first Indian pistol shooter to have won a gold medal in an ISSF World Cup Finals, has been preparing in earnest for the season’s first ISSF World Cup, to be held in the capital from February 22 to March 4.
The tournament will be preceded by ISSF’s executive board meeting tomorrow, which will be chaired by president Olegario Vazquez Rana.
National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) chief Raninder Singh sounded excited about hosting the Administrative Council and Executive Council meetings of the ISSF, saying that some important decisions could emerge from these meetings.
Interacting with the media ahead of the mega-event were Olympic bronze-medallist Gagan Narang, Olympians Jeetu Rai, Heena and Kynan Chenai, who will be spearheading the Indian challenge.
Narang, who will be competing only in rifle prone event at the Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range, said, “It is a great opportunity for the shooting fraternity to watch us live at home in such a world class competition. The rule changes are aimed at making the sport more interesting.”
The World Championship and Olympic medallist Narang said that he was working hard towards regaining his place back in the Indian team for air rifle and 3-position events.
Looking ahead, Heena said, “Though there are no Olympics and quota events but I would say this is actually the most important year. Because this is the year in which I can solely focus on my training and as this is not a result-oriented year, there will be less pressure. I can work on my technique and make changes. It’s like setting the base for Olympics.
“We have identified the problem areas, and worked on them. Actually I was getting too much into the nitty-grittiesand hence forgot about the basics somewhere. Now, I am again going back to the basics.”
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