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NRAI, Army at loggerheads over shooters at national camp

Seventy elite shooters – Abhinav Bindra, Gagan Narang, Manavjit Singh Sandhu, Ronjon Sodhi, Elizabeth Susan Koshy and Tejaswani Sawant – are currently participating in the senior national camp in Thiruvananthapuram to prepare for the World Championship and the Olympics.

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NRAI, Army at loggerheads over shooters at national camp
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It's not a situation that ace Indian shooter Jitu Rai would like to be in.

From being the top medal hope for India in 2016 Rio Games, Rai and his other Army teammates including London Olympics silver medallist Vijay Kumar are finding themselves in a 'Catch 22' situation.
This is because of the ongoing tussle between the National Rifles Association of India (NRAI) and the Indian Army, which has threatened to disrupt the training regime of the country's 14 pistol and rifle shooters. All these shooters have been preparing for the season's last World Cup in Gabala, Azerbaijan, to be held from August 6 to 16. This will also double up as the Rio Games qualifiers.

Seventy elite shooters – Abhinav Bindra, Gagan Narang, Manavjit Singh Sandhu, Ronjon Sodhi, Elizabeth Susan Koshy and Tejaswani Sawant – are currently participating in the senior national camp in Thiruvananthapuram to prepare for the World Championship and the Olympics.

However, the problem is only being faced by the 14 shooters employed by the Army. They have received orders from their employer to immediately report back for the selections trials for the World Military Games in South Korea from October 2-11.

Apart from Glasgow Commonwealth and Incheon Asian Games gold medallist Rai and London Olympics silver medallist Vijay, 2010 Delhi CWG gold medallists Gurpreet Singh and Omkar Singh are some of the shooters facing this dilemma.

The reason is simple. Army wants to hold its selection trials for the World Military Games on July 2, while the national camp will conclude on July 6. With the dates clashing, Army officials have written a to the NRAI to relieve its players from the national camp.

The NRAI, on its part, has made it clear to the Army that it won't permit the 14 shooters to leave the camp as the entire booking amount has been paid to a five-star hotel for their stay.

Thus, the selected Army marksmen were told to stay back by the NRAI and this has led to exchange of letters between NRAI and Army, ultimately creating confusion for the shooters.

"The Army told us about their selection trials at the last minute. NRAI was always clear in its scheduling that the shooters will have to report for the camp after the World Cup trials. Army never informed us in advance about their trials, otherwise we would have worked out a solution. NRAI has requested them to postpone their trials by a week so that their shooters can report to them after July 6," an NRAI official said on Tuesday.

NRAI has told the Army that if it wants its shooters to report for the selection trials, then it should pay the full amount spent on their hotel bookings and travel arrangements. "We have also instructed our national coaches not to relieve the Army shooters from the camp and keep us informed about their presence," the official added.

Meanwhile, dna has reliably learnt that the Army is considering taking its orders back after their shooters have requested them to allow them to continue with the camp.

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