London-bound shooters rue delay in govt. funding

Heena SidhuNew Delhi: With just 118 days left for the 2012 London Olympics, Indian shooters Joydeep Karmakar and Heena Sidhu, who have qualified for the Games, Saturday rued the delay in getting government funding as it would hamper their training schedule.

Rifleman Karmakar said the government has sanctioned the funds but they are yet to receive a penny. "With just three months left for the Games, things are turning out to be tough for us. The National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) had forwarded our requests and it was also sanctioned by the government but we haven't received anything so far," said the Kolkata boy on the sidelines of a promotional event here held by his sponsor Mittal Champions Trust (MCT).

Young pistol shooter Heena also concurred and said that only four of the 11 shooters have received government funding through National Sports Development Fund (NSDF). Olympic champion Abhinav Bindra and shotgun shooters Ronjan Sodhi, Manavjit Singh Sandhu and Shagun Chaudhary are the beneficiaries.

"I had sent a proposed budget from January to Olympics of around a crore of rupees which included training, travelling and coaching. We got to know that only four of the 11 shooters have received funds from the government. They had submitted their budget in January and we did it in February. We are in distress and we also don't know how to approach the sport minister. The latest we heard was that it has reached NSDF and is in process," she said.

Karmakar said that though MCT is bearing the a part of the cost of their individual training, delay in getting government fund will surely affect their training schedule.

"The MCT is bearing a part of part of our training cost but they will support us only to an extent. The lion's share has to come from the government," he said.

NRAI secretary-general Rajiv Bhatia told IANS that the delay in getting the fund was because Karmakar and Heena were late entrants in the national squad for the Olympics.

"The squad was announced February 19 and they (Karmakar and Heena) were the new faces in the squad. There proposal went only in March and it is still under consideration and will be passed next week," said Bhatia.

Bhatia also said that Heena's proposal was further delayed due to the controversy over selection involving Athens Games silver medallist Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore.

Rathore, who was dropped from the squad, was kept as a back-up but in a last minute change the NRAI instead of getting a wildcard for Rathore gave it to Heena.

Karmakar and Heena made the cut at the expense of Hariom Singh and Imran Hasan Khan, who were the only two shooters to be dropped despite booking Olympic quotas.

"Due to the selection controversy Heena's proposal was further delayed," said Bhatia. (IANS)