Bindra’s Swiss coach rubbishes ‘tampering’ story

August 14th, 2008 - 5:04 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Abhinav Bindra
By V. Krishnaswamy
Beijing, Aug 14 (IANS) Indians sure love a drama, in both victory and defeat. And if a conspiracy theory is thrown in, it is that much more exciting. Within 24 hours of shooter Abhinav Bindra winning India’s first individual gold medal in the men’s 10m air rifle event, there were unconfirmed reports in a section of the media that his rifle may have been tampered with.

The sightings, as they are called, may have been somewhat out of place, requiring some adjustment before the final, but Bindra’s Swiss coach Gaby Buehlmann, ruled out any ‘tampering’.

Buehlmann, who has played a crucial role in Bindra’s career and helped him achieve the success, shot back in broken English: “No, no, it cannot be. We had the rifle whole (sic) time under control. It was besides us. He was carrying the rifle in a soft case and it may have touched a little somewhere. Maybe he touched a wall or something and some screw may have become loose. It happens (sometimes).”

The Swiss added that she was worried about Bindra sighting shots. “There was some screw loose or something. One screw was loose maybe. There are hundreds of screws in a rifle. But he (Bindra) was reacting cleverly. He made the clicks quickly to get into the centre. Then he shot like a machine.

“But I was not worried about the final. He is very good at it,” she said.

Buehlmann shrugged off the whole incident with a laugh and said: “This is not a drama. He has the medal and who cares?”

Earlier, Deputy chef de mission Baljeet Singh Sethi, who is also the secretary-general of the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI), said they did not know about it but Bindra later told us that he had found his gun sight a little altered.

“We did not know it, but after the final he told us that he found his gun sight altered. But he is a very cool boy and has lot of patience. He did not panic, but he maintained his cool and went on to win the gold,” Sethi said.

Former India shooter, Randhir Singh, now a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and also an observer for the shooting competition, said he did not receive any complaint about the incident. “There has been no formal complaint about it,” he said. “So, I cannot even react to this.”

A newspaper had suggested in a report that Bindra’s rifle may have been tampered with in the period between the qualifying and final sessions. It reported that it was done when Bindra went to the rest room, and while Buehlmann also stepped out at the same time for a smoke. The suggestion was that this was probably the time when the rifle was tampered with.

Sethi shut the chapter saying: “I don’t think that (blame game) helps. Actually, you cannot blame anyone; it’s your duty to take care of your gun. He was the only Indian to qualify, so there were shooters from other countries in that room.”

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