Rifle shooter Ayonika Paul is in trouble again. In her deposition before the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) appointed review committee, which was constituted to look into the Rio Olympics debacle, she said Austria’s Farnik Thomas was her coach and Suma Shirur her mentor.
However, in her earlier correspondence with the NRAI, Ayonika had stated that Suma was her personal coach and should travel with her for competition. In fact, Suma has been Ayonika’s coach from the Asian Air Gun Championships held in New Delhi in September last year until the Rio Olympics.
This has not gone well with the Abhinav Bindra-headed committee, and has said this was done “for monetary gains” in its report, which was handed to NRAI president Raninder Singh on Thursday.
Asked to comment, the NRAI president said: “I can make no comment on the details of the report as we plan to release it to the media on October 5. But this issue has been brought to our notice from the committee and it is clearly a source of concern.” Ayonika’s father, Ashim, who handles her matters, couldn’t be reached for a comment.
This is not the first time the shooter has been caught on the wrong foot. In June, she was reprimanded by the federation for starting a crowdfunding initiative, seeking Rs 3 lakh for a sports jacket for the Rio Games even though she had sought Rs 1.14 core under TOPS (Target Olympic Podium Scheme).
On learning about Ayonika’s deposition, Suma shot off a letter, a copy of which is with HT, to the review committee and NRAI seeking that she be “reprimanded at the highest level”.
“I am appalled Ayonika chose not to acknowledge my contribution as her personal coach, lying square faced in front of the panel that she never trained with me and I was only her mentor. Also, that she trained only with Farnik Thomas. I was the one present at all home range training, World Cups and at the Olympics, sitting behind her and coaching her,” she wrote.
“This blatant lying to the Olympic panel and to appropriate (sic) funds from TOPS undermines the contribution made by me in her maiden Olympic journey. If such unethical behaviour, dishonesty and spreading of lies goes unchecked, it could set a bad example for other upcoming athletes and Olympic aspirants,” she added.
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