by Nadia Isa
India will host the shooting and archery events for the 2022 Commonwealth Games, six months before the main event kicks off in host city Birmingham. The proposal was put forward by India in January following their threat to boycott the Games after shooting was initially excluded.
Former Olympic and Commonwealth champion Russell Mark said the decision is a positive outcome for shooting but by no means a perfect scenario. “It’s better than the alternative of not having shooting at all but is not perfect by any means,” said the Australian Shooter columnist.
“It’s so disappointing that Birmingham, the home of shotgun shooting, chose to throw it out - that’s a real slap in the face. It’s sad that you have to put up such a fight to have shooting included in the Commonwealth Games.”
Reigning Commonwealth Champion Laetisha Scanlan agreed with Mark but was excited at the opportunity to defend her title. “I think it’s fantastic that all the associations have worked together worldwide to put shooting back into the Commonwealth Games,” she said.
“I’m super excited because it gives me another chance to defend my title. But the thing that makes the Commonwealth Games so special is it’s a multi-sport event, so it’ll be disappointing that we won’t be able to support Australian athletes in other sports as the shooters won’t be in Birmingham.”
Both shooting and archery will take place in Chandigarh in January 2022, with the main Games from July 27 to August 7. The move to India was approved by the Commonwealth Games Federation executive board.
Chandigarh 2022 and Birmingham 2022 will be separately organised and funded, but medals will count towards the overall tally. India has offered to pay for the cost of hosting the two competitions, thought to be as much as $38m.
“There’s a long tradition of Commonwealth Championships being held across the globe, featuring several different sports, so it’s great news that India will be continuing this tradition,” Birmingham 2022 chief executive Ian Reid said.
Shooting has featured in every Commonwealth Games bar one since 1966 and at the 2018 Games on the Gold Coast, India’s shooters accounted for a quarter of the nation’s total medal haul.
But Mark said the issue is bigger than just one competition. “It’s time for us as a sport to market ourselves better. We’ve got to have a bigger profile,” he said. “I think these institutions feel they can pick on shooting because we don’t have strong marketing or a good public profile. We have to get better at marketing ourselves.”
Australian Women’s Shooter columnist Scanlan is hoping success at the Games will positively promote the sport. “The Commonwealth Games and Olympics is where shooting really get its publicity. We only have a certain amount of time to promote our sport.
“We always need the public rallying behind us. We do need shooting in the Commonwealth Games and even though it’s not in the same city, it’s definitely better than not having it at all.”