In a major blow to Indian sports, shooting, the discipline which has produced a rich haul of medals for India over the years, has been removed from the roster of sports that are going to feature in the next Commonwealth Games – to be held in Birmingham, England in 2002.
The decision was revealed on June 21 by the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF). The enormity of impact this move will have on India's standing in the medals tally can be gauged by looking at how many golds the country has been winning since the 2002 edition of the games in Manchester. That year, 14 of India's 30 golds were from shooting and stars like Abhinav Bindra and Anjali Bhagwat arrived on the scene.
In 2006 at Melbourne, the percentage was even higher with 16 of 22 golds put into India's kitty by the shooters. The champions of that time included famous names like Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Abhinav Bindra, Gagan Narang and Jaspal Rana. At home in 2010 New Delhi edition of the quadrennial event, the haul from this sport came to 14 golds. The number dipped considerably in 2014 to just 4 golds and in 2018, it rose marginally to 7. Apart from these, there were a good number of silver and bronze medals also that Indian marksmen and women clinched for the country.
Speaking to IANS, silver medallist at the 2014 Games, Anjum Moudgil, expressed her disappointment at the decision. "This issue has been going on for quite some time. It is not good because this is a very big event for Indian shooting. We have no choice but to go with the CGF's decision. The NRAI (National Rifle Association of India) did whatever they could to prevent this but there is little one can do once the higher authorities have made their minds. They have their reasons which is why this decision has been made," the shooter said.
There was even a suggestion by Raninder Singh, President of NRAI, of boycotting the entire CWG in 2022. But such a drastic step is unlikely to be taken. Indian shooters, it seems, will not be on show in Birmingham.