'Frustrating to face such a situation'

Last Updated 16 January 2010, 19:48 IST

Abhinav said he was frustrated with the National Rifles Association of India's attitude towards him but the NRAI claimed they were being made a scapegoat in the entire episode and they have never asked him to appear for trials.

"There are days when I feel like throwing away my rifle. The whole thing started in July when the sports ministry intimated me that the NRAI wants to me to compete in trials for Commonwealth Championships, I came back in November only to be told by the NRAI that the trials have been postponed to January," said Abhinav, India's first individual Olympic gold medallist.

"Now I get to know that my name is not there in the team for the Commonwealth Championship in February. I am not upset that somebody else is getting a chance, I am only upset about the process. First they throw me out of the Commowealth Games core group, then they deny me a contract with the sponsors and now I am not there in the Commonwealth Championship team," he added.

"NRAI's attitude surprises me. I have never said anything against NRAI. I am not saying that I don't want to be accountable. You can monitor my results. It's certainly frustrating and annoying to face such situations,"Abhinav said.

Rattled by Abhinav's threat to quit, the NRAI said it was actually the sports ministry which had asked the Beijing Olympics gold medallist to attend national trials for getting his foreign training trips partly financed.

"We are being made scapegoats in the whole matter despite the fact that we are not even in the picture. It's the sports ministry which had asked Abhinav to attend trials before sanctioning finances for his training trip. How can the NRAI be blamed for it? We have never pressurised him to attend trials," said NRAI Secretary Rajiv Bhatia.

"I have no clue why he is attacking the federation. May be because it is easier to put the blame on us. Everybody thinks that the federations are only harassing athletes but nobody has questioned Bindra about his claims of training at his own expense," he added.

The 27-year-old world champion, who clinched the historic Olympic gold medal in the 10m air rifle, has been at loggerheads with the game's administrators but had never threatened to quit publicly.

The NRAI, however, dismissed Abhinav's allegations and said the body never misinformed him about the trial schedule.
"We never told him that trials are on December 18. Actually, he never wants to come to trials in India," Bhatia said.

NRAI also released a series of letters exchanged between Abhinav and the sports ministry, which state that the shooter had been asked to attend trials by the ministry in lieu of training trip expenses.

"The Executive Committee of the National Sports Development Federation considered your proposal and ratified the assistance already made. The Executive Committee also approved financial assistance only for July and September 2009 subject to receipts of accounts for the assistance already released.

"This approval is further subject to your compliance with the National Rifle Association of India for participation in selection trials and international competitions," read a ministry letter to Abhinav after he requested partial financing of a foreign training trip.
Abhinav had agreed to participate in the trials after this and Bhatia said the NRAI was in no way involved in the matter.

"Where does the NRAI come in all this? If the ministry says that you cannot select someone without trial, how can we flout that? Won't we get hauled up if we send names of shooters who have not appeared for trials?" Bhatia pointed out.

Abhinav's standoff with the NRAI comes just a few days after the national hockey team went on strike for non-payment of dues and had to be pacified by the administrators with a promise of payments before the World Cup in March.

Hockey goalkeeper Baljit Singh had lashed out at the sports ministry just a couple of days ago for abandoning his treatment midway.
Abhinav's father A S BIndra said the shooter's morale has taken a hit after constant run-ins with NRAI.

"His emotional state is very low. He is planning that if 'I am subjected to such harassment then it's better to quit then confront'," he added.
The incidents reflect poorly on Indian sports in a year in which the country is scheduled to host the Commonwealth Games in October.

(Published 16 January 2010, 06:54 IST)

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