Abhinav Bindra may have quit professional shooting but now serving in some decision making capacities, India’s Olympic legend still remains at centre stage for the shooting world.As the chairman of the athletes commission of the International Shooting Sports Federation (ISSF) Bindra-led governing body recommended converting three men’s Olympic medal events into mixed events. Bindra has lost many friends in the process.”The change was mandated by the international body and was always going to be a difficult change. Nobody likes changes. Athletes hate changes, I would as well. But when you are trying to make hard decisions and ones which are tough for sport, you will never win the popularity contest,” an unfazed Bindra told India Today.With men’s 50-metre free pistol, 50-metre rifle prone and double trap dropped from the Olympic program and replaced with mixed doubles events there have been voices of dissent coming from affected shooters. But defending the changes Bindra says, “You have to keep personal ambitions and biases aside and take a decision which is for the good of the sport, which is evident by the recent general assembly called by shooting federations where 249 voted for the changes and there were 2 against. It pretty much has universal acceptance once you understand the reasons behind it and why it was necessary.”Following the changes, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) achieves it objective of gender equality with nine gold medals each for men and women in shooting for Tokyo 2020. But Bindra has had to deal with criticism at home as well of it affecting India’s medal prospects. The 50 meter pistol was India’s top Olympic prospect Jitu Rai’s pet event. Rajyavardhan Rathore kick started India’s rise in shooting by winning silver at Athens 2004 in double trap. The prone event has seen the likes of Gagan Narang and Joydeep Karmakar winning medals at international events.advertisementBindra responds by reminding the critics his brief wasn’t to protect India’s interest. “My role as chair of international committee of athletes of ISSF was not to take a decision which would be only better for India. It was one for good of sport that was my mandate and that’s what we tried to do,” he states.The shooting great is however confident the depth in Indian shooting will not only ensure they adapt to changes but believes it will be an advantage. “Indian shooting has a lot of depth and with time and people getting adjusted with the format am sure they will do well. The mixed team event is one that I am sure will be an advantage for us. It needs time, patience and whether you like it or you don’t you have to adapt,” he says matter of factly.Jitu Rai and Heena Sidhu, two of India’s best pistol shooters winning the mixed pistol test event recently at ISSF World Cup signals good beginnings. Bindra does not read too much in the win but is quietly confident Indian shooters will soon have a grip over things. “I followed it a little bit. Mixed team events are still at a test stage. Still Grand Prix events at the World Cup and not quite world events. Next year will be more interesting because people will know it’s a reality and everybody will take it up seriously with Olympic medals at stake. But I am sure our boys and girls will do well,” he says with optimism.
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