Olympics-bound pistol shooter Heena Sidhu has appealed to the government to sanction funds to enable her train in earnest for the 2012 London Games Olympics. The lack of it, she says, is hampering her preparations for the mega event.
"For the Olympics, I have given my budget and my training programme to the government, so let's see when they sanction the money. I think it's already very late. It is March now and only four months left now for the Olympics. The government hasn't sanctioned any money yet," Sidhu told rediff.com.
Sports Minister Ajay Maken had on Friday assured that the government will extend all support to athletes in their quest for medals at the July 27-August 12 Games.
'We have already started training for three disciplines - shooting, archery and hockey. Our target is to train 450 players for London Olympics. We will provide 3-4 star boarding facilities for the athletes. We will also provide training-cum-foreign exposure tours to all the probables. The government will bear all the expenses -- boarding as well as providing food during foreign tours,' said Maken.
However, it seems the funds are yet to reach some of the athletes.
Sidhu earned a quota place for the Games after the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) decided to exchange a spot in the 50m Rifle 3-Position event, won by Imran Hasan Khan, with the women's Air Pistol event. Her selection was clouded in controversy as she was chosen ahead of Athens Olympics silver medallist Rajyavardhan Rathore. The NRAI, though, justified their stand, insisting 'merit' was the sole criteria.
But the young Sidhu, who won a silver medal in the women's 10m Air Pistol Team event at the 2010 Asian Games, and a gold in the team and silver in the individual events at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, is unfazed with all the off-field happenings. Her only worry at the moment is the delay in getting the required money towards her training.
"My budget for this year till the Olympics is very huge. The team is training together and they are going to get the money from the government for all the camps and the training sessions. But because I will be training alone, I need the money as soon as possible to start off.
"As of now, the Mittal Champions Trust is helping me, but the budget is quite big, so I need the government's help. They are not sanctioning the money as of now," she added.
Sidhu spelt out the contribution of the Mittal Champions Trust in her development as a shooter over the last few years.
"I have been associated with the Mittal Champions Trust for the last 4-5 years. I have never faced any problems because they have helped me with everything included my equipment, my training, my stay during the competitions or the trainings and all that I wanted," she said.
"As of now, the Mittal Champions Trust is helping me, but the budget is quite big so I need the government's help. They are not sanctioning the money as of now," she added.
Beijing Olympics gold medallist Abhinav Bindra along with Ronjan Sodhi, Manavjit Singh and Shagun Chowdhary have already been sanctioned funds individually for their training under the National Sports Development Funds (NSDF).
A group of five shooters -- Gagan Narang, Sanjeev Rajput, Rahi Sarnobat, Annu Raj Singh and Vijay Kumar -- have asked the NRAI to train together and their funds have also been approved under NSDF after they submitted their plans.
Heena Sidhu and Jaydeep Karmakar, who are the two new entrants, are yet to get their funds.
Sidhu said she has already completed all the formalities with regard to getting the money from the government, but there has been no response yet from their side.
"I don't know whom to speak with it. I have sent it [the budget and training programme] to my association and they have forwarded it to the Ministry. The Association has done whatever had to be done, and it is now in the hands of the Ministry," she said.