Olympian Heena Sidhu has pulled out of the 9th Asian Airgun Shooting Championship to be held in Tehran in December citing her inability to adhere to the dress code for women — wearing a hijab — in the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Speaking to indianshooting.com, Heena said, “I do not wish to go to Tehran where women are supposed to cover up and wear head scarves the moment they enter even the air space of Iran. I stand for equality for both genders and also freedom to practice one’s religion. It was my personal decision to pull out and I am glad that NRAI let me”.
The official competition website states “women’s clothing in the shooting range and public places is required to conform to the rules and regulations of Iran”.
Heena had also withdrawn from a competition in Iran two years back owing to the same reason.
In the last edition of the event held in New Delhi, Heena had won the gold with a score of 198.2 ahead of teammate Shweta Singh. She also helped India win the team gold.
Heena said she had informed the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) about her decision to skip the competition nearly three weeks back.
Heena also said that she wanted take a break and focus on her training before the next year’s World Cup season.
“I wished to take a break and concentrate on getting back and pay attention on my basics before World Cups for next year,” added Heena.
Heena is the only Indian shooter to pull out of this competition. She has been replaced by Harveen Srao in the Women’s 10m Air Pistol.
Heena who is the former World No. 1 had finished 14th after shooting 380 in air pistol at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Heena made the shooting fraternity take notice in the 2013 ISSF World Cup Final in Munich, scoring 203.8 for a world record and the gold.