| Updated at: 1007 PST, Monday, September 27, 2010|
NEW DELHI: India's shooters are expected to fetch a bagful of medals and bring glory to the country at the Commonwealth Games. But they themselves had to put up with disgraceful treatment when they were left stranded at the airport for several hours after their arrival in the Capital.
Fifteen shooters, including ace rifle marksman Gagan Narang, and three officials left their camp in Pune at 3pm on Saturday, but finally reached the Village only at 3am on Sunday.
First, they had to wait for two hours to get a bus. Then they had to detour to the Karni Singh shooting range to deposit their weapons and ammunition.
The delay forced the shooters to skip their morning training session and left them wondering why better arrangements couldn't have been made.
The Indian shooting contingent was left frustrated after it took them 12 hours to reach the Games Village from Pune. "We were given a good send-off in Pune at 3pm and were treated well by Air India at Pune airport. We took the flight at 6.40pm and landed in Delhi at 9pm. But by the time I checked into the room it was past 3am, over 12 hours since we left Pune," shooting national coach Sunny Thomas told TOI.
Apart from Gagan Narang, the contingent included the likes of Imran Hassan Khan, Vijay Kumar, Lajja Gauswami and Annuraj Singh.
Thomas revealed that after their arrival in Delhi domestic airport, they were taken to the international airport from where they were to be taken to the Games Village. "In fact one of our Delhi-based coaches had made transport arrangements at the domestic airport. But we could not use them as we were told that arrangements have been made at the international airport," Thomas said.
"We were made to wait for almost two hours for the bus. I don't know whether the bus was ready when we reached there. But they kept telling us that they are waiting for another shooter who was to come from abroad. Incidentally that shooter never arrived while we were waiting."
Even after getting the bus, the team's ordeal did not end. Considerable time was taken in finding a route for the bus since the shooters had to go to the Karni Singh shooting range to deposit their weapons and ammunition. "I know this was not deliberate, but it showed lack of coordination. Luckily, it did not happen with the foreign teams," Thomas said. "However, I feel these are starting problems and things will fall in place once the Games begin."
However, National Rifle Association Of India (NRAI) officials played down the delay. "It's not as much delay as it's being made out to be. They waited for some time, but this can happen anywhere,'' said NRAI official Rajiv Bhatia. "As a shooter was coming from abroad, we had to wait for him since he was carrying weapons. This issue is being blown out of proportion."