The Asian Games organisers' last minute decision to allow only one set of competitors in mixed team shooting events might have robbed India a medal as the country couldn't field its best bet -- Rudrankksh Patil and Mehuli Ghosh -- in the 10m mixed air rifle discipline. Rudrankksh and Mehuli are in top form having already secured quota places for Paris Olympics and were supposed to be India's second team in the event. But surprisingly, the Asian Games organisers decided to allow only one competitor from a country in the event. (Medal Tally | Schedule | Streaming | Full Coverage | More Sports News)
As per the National Rifle Association of India's (NRAI) policy, which states that only the top-ranked shooter in the discipline can be part of the mixed team at the time of selection, Divyansh Panwar and Ramita Jindal made the cut.
Divyansh and Ramita, however, missed the 10m mixed air rifle bronze medal by a whisker, finishing fourth.
Mehuli, who won the women's team silver in the 10m air rifle event teaming up with Ramita and Ashi Chouksey, said the rule change robbed her of participating in another event.
"There is a policy which is already decided by the NRAI. As per the policy whosoever is No.1 ranked in men and women when the team is decided, they are selected for the mixed event," Mehuli told PTI on the sidelines of a felicitation function here on Thursday.
"I was actually selected for the mixed event when the team was announced. I was there in the mixed team in Group B but later on we got to know that only one team can play and that had to be Group A team, so that was the change at the last moment.
"First we knew two teams were supposed to play but a few weeks before the Asian Games we got to know the Games organisers decided that only one team can play," she said.
Mehuli said the level of competition in the country in her event is very close.
"The No.1 and No. 2 teams are decided on performance basis but you know the scores are so close, our averages are so close. So, it is very difficult to decide which team is the best at that point," she said.
One more 🥇 for 🇮🇳 at the ISSF Shooting World Cup, Cairo 🥳— SAI Media (@Media_SAI) February 21, 2023
4⃣th 🏅 and 3⃣rd 🥇for 🇮🇳 as Reigning World Champion Rudrankksh Patil wins a🥇 after defeating Ulbrich 🇩🇪 16-8 in Men's 10m Air Rifle event GMM
Way to go Champ 🥳🥳 pic.twitter.com/E1aNrqeZ2L
Rudrankksh too said he didn't perform in the mixed team because of NRAI's policy.
"I wasn't ranked No. 1 in India. My personal plan, which we had decided with the coaches, is that because I have an Olympic quota, I have direct eligibility in the Asian Games. So, I didn't have to play the trials, instead I used that time for recovery and training.
"My ranking was reduced, others players like Divyansh and Aishwary (Pratap Singh Tomar) shot really good in the past few months and because of that they climbed to top 2 ranks," he said.
NRAI secretary Rajiv Bhatia said due to the rule change, the country couldn't field two teams at the Asian Games.
He said the national federation had also written to the Asian Games organisers, requesting them to allow two teams but to no avail.
"We selected two teams thinking that they will be allowed to participate because in the World Championships and World Cups two teams can compete.
"But the Asian Games organisers didn't allow that. They didn't even allow three shooters from a country in the final if they have qualified," Bhatia told PTI.
"We had written to the organisers to allow two teams but they informed us that only one team can compete. So as per our policy, we had to go with Divyansh and Ramita who were the top ranked at the time of selection."