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Jaspal Rana trains gun on system, had plans to quit Asiad team

Written by: Staff
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New Delhi, Nov 22 (UNI) Barely a week before leaving for Asian Games in Doha, an upset Jaspal Rana revealed he was planning to quit the squad at the eleventh hour as a mark of protest against the ills plaguing the game and felt fellow shooters like Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore should raise their voice against what he found a flawed system.

Not sparing anyone, a dejected Rana said he has no expectations from himself at Doha simply because he is struggling with his technique and doesn't have enough ammunition.

''Yes, at this point of time, I have no hesitation in admitting that I'm struggling with my technique and the kind of ammunition I would be using in Doha is not good enough even for practice.

''Anyway, I have to live with these things and that's why I don't have any expectation from myself in Doha,'' the dejected shooter told reporters here last night.

Jaspal has refused to attend the Bangalore camp, prompting the Sports Ministry to shoot off a letter and the marksman defended his decision, saying there was no point in joining the camp for a number of reasons.

''They didn't have ammunition there and the training programme is utterly preposterous. They tried to browbeat me into joining the camp and threatened that I won't be supplied ammunition if I don't join the camp.

''So I had to borrow ammunition from fellow shooters and I'm practising with that. They, in fact, wanted to throw me out of the side but I came up with good scores to scuttle their designs,'' claimed the shooter.

Jaspal rued he did not have a coach and claimed he didn't receive any ammunition in the last two years.

''The (National Rifle) Association (of India) is helpless, for it has its own limits. But the Government, Sports Ministry, Sports Authority of India (SAI) -- everyone has to be blamed. At the end of the day, we should remember that Sports Ministry, SAI of NRAI -- all are for the players and not the other way round,'' said a fuming Jaspal.

''I met the personal assistant of the then Sports Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar and he promised me that ammunition would reach me by the next morning. Unfortunately, I'm yet to see that morning.

''They have got their priortities completely wrong. They are spending a hell lot of money on the entire boundary wall of the Karni Singh Range as preparation for the 2010 Commonwealth Games but how much they have done for the range itself?'' asked an irate Jaspal.

He also seemed unhappy with the culture of silence among his peers.

''The blame lies with the players as well. If people like Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore or Anjali Bhagwat speaks out, people would listen to them. They are superstars today and this is the best time to speak against the problems plaguing the game. There may not be problem for them now but they should look beyond themselves and think about the entire fraternity.

''Last 17 years, I have been fighting it all alone and without any support from any other shooter. My frequent questioning of the system earned me a lot of enemies and they took it personally and always tried to annihilate me. For some reasons, I, however, continue to survive,'' said the shooter who won the 25m Centre Fire Pistol gold in the 1994 Asian Games.

Shifting focus to Doha, Jaspal said he would compete in 25m Centre Fire and 25m Standard Pistol events in Doha and knows it won't be a cakewalk.

''It's going to be very difficult for shooters from China, Korea and Japan will be in the fray. In fact it's much tougher than the World Cup. Every four years, you have this Asian Games while you have four World Cups every year.

''Sometimes, some countries don't field their best shooters in World Cup but at Asian Games, you have the cream of the crop,''he explained.

Asked how he manages to keep his focus when his mind is bitter with so much of distractions, Jaspal said, ''I never thought they would take it personally and try to disrupt my practice. It's bound to affect my show in Doha and at one stage, I did seriously think about quitting the squad at the eleventh hour.

''Anyway, I'm not going to do that. I'll go to Doha and try my best and beating all odds would be my biggest motivation,'' he added.

UNI AY DH BS1218

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