NRAI announces tie-up with Star Sports

New Delhi, Sep 24 (IANS) The National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) has tied up with Star Sports in order to generate revenue and popularise the sport among the masses, Raninder Singh, president of the apex shooting body, said on Thursday.

“Television is very important for revenue. So we have now tied up with Star Sports in order to broadcast shooting events in a better manner. This is a path breaking initiative taken by the NRAI keeping in mind the future and the growth of Indian shooting,” Raninder Singh told media persons here.

“This is a huge investment for us. But it is totally necessary keeping in mind future corporate backing,” he added.

Raninder Singh also lamented the lack of support from the corporate sector despite good performances by Indian shooters over the past year.

“For some reason, corporate sponsorship has been very tardy. This is quite surprising given the superlative performances of our shooters,” he said.

“We have been doing really well over the past year. Eight of our athletes have already bagged quota places for next year’s Rio Olympics. With a few more qualifying events lined up in the near future, we are expecting our athletes to bag a total of 12 quota places,” he added.

Former Olympic champion Abhinav Bindra, who was also present on the occasion, endorsed the NRAI’s initiative.

“It is good for the long term development of the sport. It is the only way to make it a household sport. So this is an important step,” Bindra said.

The NRAI chief was speaking ahead of the 8th Asian Air Gun Championship which is scheduled to be held at the Dr. Karni Singh Shooting Range here from September 27 to 30.

The event, which will see a total of 181 shooters from 14 countries battling for top honours, will be the first to be broadcast live by Star Sports under the agreement with the NRAI.

It will be the first time that any international shooting event other than the World Cups and World Championship will be beamed live on television in India.

With continental powerhouse China deciding to give the tournament a miss, the event has been robbed of some of its star power. Raninder Singh, however, insisted that the current field boasts enough firepower to give the Indian shooters a run for their money.

“The Chinese could not send their team because their national trials for the Air Gun event are currently going on. On top of that, they have already secured their Olympic quota places,” Raninder Singh informed.

“We have several top shooters in various the categories including World No.5 Vladimir Issachenko of Kazakhstan (men’s 10m Air Pistol) and World No.6 Elaheh Ahmedi of Iran (women’s 10m Air Rifle), among others. Our shooters definitely would not have it easy,” he added.

He also stated that Pakistan have decided to skip the event due to lack of funds.

“They are not funded by the state so they have to raise their own finances. Therefore, they have very limited funds.

“In India, we take it for granted that the government will fund sports. But in most other countries, shooters have to raise their own finances. So they prefer to conserve their energy for the Olympics,” Raninder Singh remarked.

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