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India misses out on sure-shot team gold, record at Asian Shooting Championship due to apparel issue

New Delhi: The Indian junior men’s 10m air rifle team missed out on a sure-shot gold and an Asian Shooting Championships junior record, when one of the three marksmen, Dhanush Srikanth, was disqualified from the competition in Changwon, Korea on Thursday due to ‘improper stiffness’ of the apparel that he was wearing during competition.

The Indian team, comprising Umamahesh Maddineni, Dhanush and Abhinav Shaw shot 628.5, 627.9 and 625.6 to aggregate 1882, which would have earned them the team gold with an Asian junior record, but the marksman’s disqualification meant, India being deprived of a medal.

The trouser that Dhanush was wearing in competition had a stiffness of 2.9, while the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) rules stipulate it should not be less than 3.0.

In shooting events, like 10m air rifle and 50m rifle 3-positions events, it is mandatory to wear stiff jackets and trousers as precision can only be achieved if the body movement is minimum. This can be achieved by wearing stiff kits, which give stability to the body while shooting.

All three marksmen also made it to the eight-shooter finals, but Dhanush was disqualified and his qualification scores scrapped by the jury at the range following a random post-qualification check.

Dhanush’s score of 627.9 in qualification placed him third going into the eight-shooter finals but he was replaced by country-mate Pratham Badhana, who had earlier finished ninth in qualifying.

A rifle coach accompanying the contingent, Deepak Dubey, said, “It is unfortunate that we missed out on a sure-shot team gold with an Asian junior record.”

“They (range juries) conducted a post-qualification check on the trousers and found Dhanush’s trouser not conforming to the ISSF rule,” Dubey told PTI from Changwon.

“As per the ISSF rules, the jury should have checked the thickness of the trousers at five designated points, but they didn’t do it as per the layout (diagram) of the apparel.

“Only one part stiffness was 2.9. It should be 3.0 as per ISSF rule. They should have checked at five designated points on the trouser and made three attempts. But they did checks only at two points and also made just two attempts,” he elaborated.

“We have been having problems every single day getting our equipment and kit cleared by the range jury, while we are using the same equipment and kit being used by other shooters,’ said Dubey, adding that a written protest had been made with the jury of appeal.”

“The jury also did not show Dhanush the red card after completing the random check. We were all in the finals range preparing our shooters for the title showdown when we got the news,” he added.

Asian Games gold medallist in double trap, Ronjan Sodhi said, it is ‘really unfortunate’ for an athlete to go through this ordeal.

“I sympathise with the coaches and the athlete who has had to go through this ordeal. The government is spending so much of money to train and send these athletes for competitions. This is the biggest Indian contingent ever to be sent for the Asian Championships. Number-wise, the contingent is even bigger than China and the host country,” said Ronjan, a Khel Ratna awardee.

“Something as small as a trouser or jacket is a question mark. I don’t know how things are going,” he added.

(Published 26 October 2023, 13:20 IST)

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