PETALING JAYA: Woman shooter Ishvari Jahnava Devi Dasi, formerly known as Irina Maharani, has been left out in the cold despite having qualified on merit for the Commonwealth Games, which will be held in Melbourne from March 15-26.
The 44-year-old Russian-born shooter, who became a Malaysian citizen in 1998, is another athlete who was not on the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) list despite meeting the qualifying standard.
The selection committee, who finalised the team on Wednesday, have also left out Indonesian-born weightlifter Mohamed Hidayat Hamidon, the 1998 Commonwealth Games gold medallist and walker Mohd Shahrulhaizy Abdul Rahman.
National Shooting Association of Malaysia (NSAM) secretary Jasni Shaari said Ishvari had lost her place to young shooter Joceline Cheah.
Joceline and the experienced Bibiana Ng, both of whom also met the qualifying standards, have been picked although Malaysia are allowed three shooters.
We recommended Ishvari for the sport pistol event. In 2005, she was the second best ranked shooter, behind Bibiana, in the country. Currently, though, she is the best in the event.
She and Bibiana also won a silver medal in the 25m sport pistol pairs event at the last Commonwealth Games (in Manchester in 2002). Malaysia will have a better chance of winning a medal if Bibiana teams up with Ishvari rather than Joceline in the pairs, he said.
I accepted the OCM decision because we have two different school of thoughts. They want youngsters to be exposed but we have data to show that the average age of an Olympic champion is about 30-35 years, he said.
The favourite for the pistol events in Melbourne is Belarus-born Australian Lalita Yauhleuskaya, who is 46.
Our plan was for Bibiana and Joceline to compete in the air pistol events. We wanted Bibiana and Ishvari to compete in the 25m sport pistol pairs. In fact, all three could have been selected.
Jasni said the association would look into the matter. An appeal can be made before the final deadline for entries by name on Feb 15.