Former world champion shooter Rudrankksh Patil wants to be picked for Paris Olympics ahead of trial-topper, writes to NRAI

Gun Rights

Former world champion shooter Rudrankksh Patil has appealed to the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) to include him in the team for the Paris Olympics ahead of Sandeep Singh, who topped five-shooter the selection trials earlier this week.

In a letter to the governing body, Patil urged the selectors to look at ‘overall performances’ rather than comparing him and Singh only based on the selection trials, which concluded in Bhopal last Sunday.

“I believe there is a better probability of me doing well (at the Olympics) than Sandeep because I have the experience of competing under high pressure,” Patil said.

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In 2022, Patil became only the second Indian shooter to win the World Championship gold medal in the 10m air rifle event. In the process, he also won a Paris Olympics quota for India but he finished third behind Singh, whose high scores caught everyone’s attention, and Arjun Babuta in the four-stage selection trials that were held over the last month.

The 20-year-old was 0.3 points behind second-placed Babuta and 1.4 short of Singh based on the final average scores. As per the NRAI’s selection policy, the top two finishers in the trials of each event would be picked for the Olympics team regardless of whether they won the quota place or not.

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“I realise I have finished third but I have written to the NRAI only because the selection policy clearly states that the final decision will be in the hands of the selection committee,” Patil told The Indian Express. “Had this not been mentioned, I wouldn’t have made this appeal.”

The rules state that the ‘NRAI reserves the right to amend the Selection Procedure wherever appropriate or necessary’ and ‘regardless of anything contained herein (the document) the decision of the Selection Committee of NRAI shall be final and binding.’

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rudrankksh patil aims during World championships Rudrankksh Patil aims during the World Championships in Cairo.

When contacted, Singh told this newspaper that he was unaware of the letter Patil sent. “I have nothing to say on this. It will be the NRAI’s decision eventually,” he added.

NRAI Secretary General K Sultan Singh said they have received his letter and it will be ‘presented to the selection committee’ when they meet. “It will be up to the committee, what they decide,” he said.

The NRAI only last week won one legal battle over its selection policy, which was challenged by shooter Manini Kaushik after she wasn’t included to participate in the trials. In a statement after the order, the NRAI had said the Delhi High Court had ‘upheld’ its guidelines.

The outcome of the 10m air rifle event, considered one of India’s strengths, was seen as the big upset of the trials.

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Patil, a former world record holder, has been among the consistent shooters over the last Olympic cycle. But when the situation demanded during the trials, he couldn’t shoot high scores in the qualifying rounds like Singh, who lacks enough international experience and couldn’t back up his qualifying scores with good performances in the finals.

Patil said he didn’t have anything personal against Singh nor did he wish to challenge the federation on its selection policy. “I wouldn’t even have done this if I had finished fourth or below in the selection trials. I would have backed out,” he said. “Neither would I have done this if it was any one of Arjun, Divyansh (Panwar) or Sri Karthik, because they have all proven themselves.”

He added: “I understand Sandeep is in good form. But he doesn’t have international experience and hasn’t proved himself in the finals. And there, I feel experience matters. I had the quota for the last two years, so I was already dealing with that pressure. On top of that, I had to compete in multiple international tournaments and keep producing good performances, which I have done.”

When asked about his performance at the trials, in which he couldn’t match the high scores Singh shot to finish first, Patil said: “I couldn’t shoot the highest scores in the trials, that is something I will continue to improve on. But I have shot scores that would be good enough to make it to the finals of the Olympics. There are still two months left for the Olympics, so I have a window to improve.”

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The shooting team is scheduled to leave for Munich in the next few days and after participating in the Word Cup there, from May 31 to June 8, they will proceed to France for a training camp.

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