<br>Till now, barring the 1970 Edinburgh edition of the Games, shooting always featured in the quadrennial event before the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) and the Birmingham organisers decided to drop the ‘optional sport’.
Rana, winner of four Asian Games gold medals (1994 Hiroshima and 2006 Doha) and the most successful Indian athlete at the Commonwealth Games (15 medals, including nine gold), feels that since the home team "cannot compete" with Indian marksmen, they are trying to "eliminate the sport" from the quadrennial games.
Following are excerpts from an Ajit Weekly News interview:
Q: Who do you think is responsible for removing shooting from the CWG curriculum?
A: To begin with, we ourselves are responsible in a big way (by giving such superb performances in the previous editions of the CWG). Abhinav Bindra, Anjali Vedpathak, Suma Shirur, Mansher Singh and everyone who did well in the Commonwealth Games are responsible!
The way we have won medals in CWG in the last two decades, I think the people were not able to take it in a sporting way. So, for them, the best way was to eliminate the sport. That’ll get their medals tally somewhere.
Q: With England being a country which exports so much shooting equipment and ammunition, do you think there was a real problem for them in organising shooting events in CWG?
A: India is one of the biggest buyers of ammunition for shooting from England. What hurts me most is the fact that we issue threats of boycotting the Games, but we cannot boycott their products because we are so used to them. As far as organising shooting events is concerned, they did it in 2002 (Manchester Commonwealth Games), so why is there a problem now?
I came back with the maximum number of medals from Manchester — four gold, a silver and a bronze. So, what went wrong now? In Victoria (1994), they made a makeshift range which they took off after the Games. When you are spending so much money (on organising the Games), it sounds strange when you talk about lack of funds for shooting.
Q: Why do you think the CGF has removed shooting on purpose?
A: Because a poor performance from their shooters will lead to calls for accountability. We should be thankful that the Indian cricket board has such tremendous clout in the world, otherwise they would have shut cricket in India.
Q: Do you think India should stage a symbolic protest in Birmingham against shooting being dropped from the curriculum?
A: It’s too late for that. I don’t believe in protests. I believe in drawing the line longer. If CWG is boycotting shooters and trying to kill the sport, we should boycott their ammunition.
I know the federation (National Rifle Association of India) won’t like it, but it should ban anything that comes from England. The federation is the biggest buyer of a specific brand of ammunition manufactured in England. They should buy ammunition from Finland, Germany and other European countries, but not England.
What did Mahatma Gandhi do? We should do the same thing, boycott their ammunition, stop using their brands. I know I’ll be targeted for this comment, but that’s OK.
Q: Share some interesting memories from your CWG trips…
A: I have several, right from 1994 to 1998 to Manchester 2002 to Melbourne 2006. All those are lovely memories and those are being killed by just a handful of people. CWG used to be a stepping stone for achieving bigger things. We used to meet so many shooters from diverse nations, which was wonderful. I suppose all that will not happen now.
–Ajit Weekly News<br>akm/arm
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