London Dreams: ISSF gives glimmer of hopes to Rathore, NRAI says no chance

Though the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) has finalized the name of pistol shooter Heena Sidhu to exchange the Olympic quota place won in men’s rifle 3-position before the March 12 deadline, a top ISSF official gave a glimmer of hope to Athens Olympics silver medalist Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore saying they will be able to accommodate the double trap shooter for the London Olympics if India decides to replace the youngster’s name with that of Rathore, says a report in The Times Of India.

“It is true that there are no vacant quota places in double trap. But we will still be able to accommodate a shooter if it is done in exchange of another quota as the total of number of shooters going for Olympics will remain the same,” an International Shooting Sport Federation official told TOI.

However, National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) officials said there won’t be any change in the decision to nominate the name of Heena for the exchange the quota place.  “It was a unanimous decision by the full house of the selection committee. Not a single person raised any objection to the selection of Heena,” Baljit Singh Sethi, advisor of NRAI, said adding that “She is our best hope”.

India’s former hockey coach Jose Brasa in his column in TOI, writes that the World Series Hockey is precisely what the doctors have ordered for Indian hockey’s revival. “We are witnessing a never seen-before aggressive approach from the Indian youngsters in the star-studded tournament as they feel motivated in a professional set-up and are going all out to win every match. Hockey is being dished out at a blistering pace with an average of more than 6goals per match and the fans are being treated to non-stop TV coverage for 34 days. In a nutshell, this is exactly the platform that well-wishers of Indian hockey would want for the sport before the all-important Olympic Games,” writes Brasa, adding instead, we have an inexplicable situation for the sport, courtesy Hockey India.

“They seem to be acting against the interest of the players, hockey fans, and are more caught up in tying up hockey into further knots. Hockey India administrators’ approach to put themselves above the game and the players needs to be condemned by all those who want to see India shining at the Olympics.”

Coming to badminton, as the prestigious All-England Badminton Championship saunters into its 102nd edition on Tuesday, the focus shifts to Saina Nehwal. Badminton buffs look to the champion shuttler to break the decade long Indian jinx at the Birmingham tournament, without doubt the blue riband event of world badminton, writes TOI.

“The Indian ace, who will turn 22 on March 17, is yearning to triumph at Birmingham.  Though she prepared well and is confident of putting up a better show, she knows that every shuttler will dream of the All England title.  The Hyderabadi shuttler will need to breach a three-tier Chinese wall to clinch the title. The Indian, who opens her campaign against a qualifier — most likely against Sapsiree Taerattanachai of Thailand — may face China's Xuerui Li in the quarters, second seed Wang Xin in semifinals and World no.1 Wang Yihan in the final.”

Meanwhile, Yuki Bhambri outplayed Conor Niland of Ireland 6-1, 6-3 in the first round of the $35,000 Challenger tennis tournament in Kyoto, Japan, on Monday. The 19-year-old Yuki and partner Ti Chen of Chinese Taipei, however, lost the final doubles qualifying round 3-6, 7-6(4), 4-10 to the Japanese pair of Takuto Niki and Bumpei Sato.