Heena Sidhu seemed a bit frustrated when asked about the government's initiative © Getty Images (Representational Image)
Heena Sidhu seemed a bit frustrated when asked about the government’s initiative © Getty Images (Representational Image)

New Delhi: Top Indian shooters, including Abhinav Bindra and Heena Sidhu, said that the government’s much talked-about Target Olympic Podium (TOP) scheme could have been implemented better, though they called it a “well-meaning” programme. Heena, who secured the country’s ninth shooting quota for the Rio Olympic Games, seemed a bit frustrated when asked about the government’s initiative. “Nothing will happen. You just have to fight against everybody. A lot of people think that Olympic quota and medal comes just like that very easily, that one does not have to work to win it. They don’t understand that going to Olympics is so difficult,” Heena said at the Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range.

Heena secured an Olympic quota for the country after she led from start to finish and claimed the gold medal in women’s 10-m air pistol on day one of the Asia Olympic Qualifiers for Shooting. The current world record holder and former world number one, Heena shot 199.4 in the eight-woman finals to finish ahead of Chinese Taipei’s Tien Chia Chen (198.1) and Gim Yun Mi (177.9) of Korea.

“Fortunately, my federation [National Rifle Association of India] and family support me a lot. They can’t stop me performing well,” she added. Bindra, a gold medal winner at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, felt the issue with TOP was that it was not able to deliver as per expectations. “It is a very well-meaning programme. It’s just that the delivery is sometimes a problem. The government has its own rules and regulations,” Bindra said.

NRAI president Raninder Singh was also asked about the government’s initiative but he gave a guarded reply. “We have also discussed about it with the government but let’s see what happens. We have not heard anything so far,” he said. Under the Sports Ministry’s TOP scheme, Olympic medal prospects are to be funded by the government for top class training as part of their preparations for the Games.

Heena’s coach Ronak Panit, who is also her husband, said the TOP scheme is a great initiative but not being implemented well. Heena said it’s very important for her to have proper rest before major assignments. “A lot depends on how rested one is. The difference between winning and losing also depends on how rested the shooter is,” she said. Asked about the controversy surrounding her selection in the Indian squad for the London Olympics in 2012, which raised a few eyebrows, Heena said, “Last time I did not know the case. I think a country should be sending the person based on current form. “This time also I am still the number one.”