Indian sport abounds in tales of host athletes being given step-motherly treatment, while their foreign counterparts are accorded red-carpet welcome by the organisers of tournaments. Though the ISSF World Cup, currently underway at the Dr. Karni Singh Shooting Range in New Delhi, does not make that distinction, the organisers could have been a little more hospitable to the shooters who are competing in the MQS (Minimum Qualification Score) category.
While it is usually a norm that MQS shooters have to pay for their travel, accommodation, match fees etc, what has put off quite a few Indian MQS shooters is the fact that they are being asked to pay for their sports kit (basically track suits) for the prestigious competition.
Though the host association is well within it’s right to charge every single paisa from MQS shooters as they are participating at “no cost to government”, giving MQS shooters a kit (worth a few thousand rupees) wouldn’t have burnt a hole in the pocket of the government or the body that controls shooting sport in the country.
For those not familiar with the term MQS, well each country can field five shooters per event (three competing for medals, and two in MQS category). Shooters in the MQS category are not eligible for medals, but their scores are considered official by the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF).
Here at the ISSF World Cup in New Delhi, apart from the accommodation and travel expenses, each MQS shooter has paid a match fee of 170 EUR per event. A lot of host MQS shooters were hopeful that since the event was taking place in India, they would be provided free travel and accommodation. But that remained an unfulfilled wish.
The Secretary General of the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) DV Seetharama Rao told indianshooting.com that, “Indian shooters in the MQS have always participated at their own cost.”
The queer part is that many of the Indian shooters competing in the MQS category are those who competed at the 2012 London and Rio Olympic Games last year, but because of their none-too-impressive showing could not make it to top three but were good enough to be selected to represent the country in the MQS section.
Olympic silver medallist Vijay Kumar in Men’s 25m Rapid Fire Pistol, former world champion Manavjit Sandhu in Men’s Trap, World Cup Final silver medallist Apurvi Chandela in Women’s 10m Air Rifle, Olympian Prakash Nanjappa in Men’s 10m Air Pistol and 50m Free Pistol, Olympian Annu Raj Singh in Women’s 25m Pistol, World Cup silver medallist Lajja Gauswami in Women’s 50m Rifle Three Position, , Commonwealth Games silver medallist Shreyasi Singh in Women’s Trap are some of the shooters who have – or will – compete in the ongoing World Cup in the MQS section.
With 26 entries in the MQS section, the strength of the Indian team is 63. The MQS shooters have been given the option to buy the sports kit, which is priced at around Rs. 9000 and includes six T-shirts along with a track suit, or compete in their personal shooting gear. Most of the MQS shooters have decided not to buy the kit.