You can't chop down a whole Olympic sport from CWG: Heena

New Delhi, July 18 (IANS) The Commonwealth Games Federation's (CWF) decision to abandon shooting from the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games (CWG) has dealt a big blow to India, which has swiftly emerged as a giant in the sport. Amidst the controversy, ace shooter Heena Sidhu feels that India should have a "united front" against the CWF's move.

"If they are throwing their weight, we can also throw our weight. But then again, its not fair as because of a few sportspersons, others will also suffer. But we have to be united, otherwise today it is happening with shooting, few years back there was also some problem with wrestling... Who is going to stand for the sportspersons if you are not standing for one sport? We definitely need to have a common front," the 29-year-old shooter told mediapersons.

"They (CWF) are catering to their public, as in what their public would like to go and see on the venue or on television. Shooting still doesn't attract much spectators, so that is why they have included cricket. Look, in 2010, we had such a very good crowd response here and people really liked the coverage. It was how youngster got encouraged. You can't chop down a whole sport, that too an Olympic sport," said Sidhu, a two-time CWG gold medallist.

On being asked the condition of backing out from the 2022 CWG, she said: "In the past, we have backed out from the games a couple of times. India being so big and given the number of Indian spectators, we can also throw our weight."

Heena was conferred with the prestigious Arjuna Award in 2014. However, the shooter from Punjab feels that the award came late due to biasness and favouritism.

"Yes, it (Arjuna award) was delayed by one year as someone said Heena is very young, let's give it to another shooter. Rajkumari Rathore won that year's (2013) Arjuna award for her national championship gold, while I had three medals, including at the CWG and Asian Games. I also had an Asian championship team gold while she (Rathore) had just one event medal. But people said that she is a veteran shooter so let's give it to Rathore this year.

"This was something which was told to me by one of the committee members herself. All sorts of things happened. However, at the end there are humans sitting inside the committee who decide as to which athlete will get it and who won't. They have their own biases, own favourites," Sidhu said, adding: "I wish there was a computer system where you put in all the names, there achievements and it decides. Artificial intelligence types (laughs)."

Speaking on the current atmosphere of Indian sports, the shooter felt the environment has changed a lot in the recent years and it has been due to the collective effort of everyone.

"I think the face of Indian sports has changed since 2008-09. It's due to the new cycle that we have started -- of winning medals, displaying stories of the athletes, making movies on on them etc. One person can't change everything, it has been a complete system working. Media has started highlighting the athletes. This is where the change started to happen. Those at the top can only facilitate the change, they can't bring it," she said,

Heena also felt that more changes should happen at the grassroots level to make sports more accessible to everyone. She also felt that more schools and colleges should include sports in their curriculum.

--IANS

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