'Confusing, not time-tested': Indian ex-Olympian shooters unhappy with new ISSF rules
The new set of rules formulated by the International Shooting Federation has received objections from the Athletes' Committee. The Bridge spoke to ex-Olympians Ronjan Singh Sodhi and Joydeep Karmakar who gave their perspective.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is yet to decide on the shooting event for the Paris Olympics 2024 with the dispute between the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) and its Athlete's Committee over changes to the format of the competition.
The ISSF in its new rule that was implemented from January 1, 2022, has added semi-finals to each of its events in the Olympic programme in a significant change from the current format, which includes a qualification round and an eight-athlete final. However, it is yet to be time-tested and requires the nod from the IOC.
The Athletes' Committee believes that the plan to broadcast semifinal and finals of shooting events would reduce the number of athletes and countries represented in the television coverage. The ISSF claims, however, that the format would be more appealing for broadcasters.
The Athletes' Committee has also raised concern over a lack of fairness and one semi-final being stronger than the other.
The ISSF Athletes' Committee, chaired by American three-time Olympic champion Kimberly Rhode, has vehemently opposed the rule changes claimed the changes being led by the ISSF would "hurt" the sport.
With the first of the 2022 ISSF World Cups lined up in February in Morocco and Egypt, it will be interesting to watch whether the ISSF issues the new regulations in the tournament, a glimpse of which was seen in the President's Cup in November 2021.
When it comes to Indian shooting, a country that is reeling under its third COVID wave amid the spread of the Omicron variant, it would be difficult to adjust to the new rules within a span of a month. Coaches believe these rules would further confuse the shooters and that the ISSF has rushed into imposing the changes with further discussions.
"ISSF is a bit confused, they believe they are adding glamour to the sport but instead they are making the shooters confused. Right now, we don't have much choice," says former double trap shooter Ronjan Singh Sodhi.
Sodhi, the Olympian, who won two silver medals at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, a gold medal at the 2010 Asian Games and became the first Indian to successfully defend a World Cup title as world no.1, had to lose out his form after double trap shooting was discontinued by ISSF. Indian shooting won its first Olympic medal in the double trap event. To reach its gender goals, the double trap event was discontinued in the Tokyo Olympics.
"I was world no.1 for a long time, somebody who has trained so hard to be at the sport, it is difficult for him/her to unlearn and re-learn. Unable to adjust to the changes my form dipped and I was then out of the team.
"The coaches would also have to prepare new strategy to adopt these rules. With the next Olympics coming in three years, it would be difficult to set different targets. If the ultimate goal is to make shooting spectator friendly, why did it shut the double trap event which was visually pleasing to watch?" Sodhi adds.
Joydeep Karmakar, who represented India in 28 World Cups 2 Commonwealth Games, and finished fourth in the men's 50-metre rifle prone event at the 2012 London Olympics, believe the new rules have not been time-tested and unless and until these rules are approved by the IOC, there is no point in implementing these rules in training.
The 42-year-old, who now mentors young shooters at the Joydeep Karmakar Shooting Academy in West Bengal, adds. "The changes are not time tested yet. It was demonstrated only in the President's CUP. We will only be able to understand once it is there for a long time. Now the 3P Rifle position has become even more gruelling. But having said, the rule has not been ratified by IOC. ISSF jumped the gun, but the IOC has to ultimately give the nod. If IOC does not, then these rules will go astray. If the rules are not changed for the Olympics, now why they will change it for World Cups.
"We cannot train in the new format unless IOC gives a nod. Though the technique won't change. It will be mainly strategic change. There will be disparities on set points. Further, the problem will crop up for tournament organisers to host big tournaments where hundreds of shooters take part," he adds.