Atlanta Olympic gold medallist in 1996 and India former shotgun coach Russell Mark is surprised that one of the most talented trap shooter Prithviraj Tondaiman is not in the Indian government Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS).
Tondaiman is ranked ninth in the world and has won bronze medals at the Doha and Lonato World Cups this year. Besides Tondaiman along with Kynan Chenai and Zoravar Singh Sandhu won the men trap team gold at the Hangzhou Asian Games.
“I am not in TOPS. Apparently they find my performances inconsistent even after two World Cup medals in the same calendar year,” confirmed Tondaiman.
Tondaiman was also unlucky to miss out on the trap finals at the Asian Games as only two marksmen from a country could make the six-shooter final, as per the rules of the Hangzhou Organising Committee.
Though I was in the shoot off, I wasn’t allowed to shoot. They ranked me 11th directly without letting me participate in the shoot off. The new rule in the Asian Games allows only two shooters from a country to participate in the finals,” Tondaiman told indianshooting.com.
“It’s indeed not fair but it is what it is. And from what I heard it’s a one-off rule only for the Asian Games. Not for ISSF competitions. It was decided only at the Asian Games because the Olympics has only two representatives from a country,” added Tondaiman.
During his stint with the Indian trap team, which was cut short in May this year because of contractual issues, Mark made a huge impact as coach and he felt that Tondaiman had the ability to win an Olympic medal.
“I am in contention for the world ranking quota” said Tondaiman who is at No 5 in the Olympic qualification ranking.
Prithviraj has the ability to win an Olympic medal. How he is not on your (India) TOPS programme is unbelievable in my mind as he could easily gain entry to the Olympics via the world ranking quota. He is in the top few, said Mark.