Shooter Joseline still fuming over omission

PETALING JAYA: Malaysian women pistol shooters Ishvari Jahnava Devi Dasi (formerly known as Irina Maharani) and Bibiana Ng were way off the mark in their bid to earn a quota spot for the London Olympics at the Asian Shooting Championships in Doha yesterday.

They finished 13th (379 points) and 32nd (370) respectively but yesterday’s outcome was no consolation for Joseline Cheah, who was sidelined from the Asian meet despite ranking number one in the discipline last year.

Joseline was told by the National Shooting Association of Malaysia (NSAM) that only medal winners at the Indonesia SEA Games last December and those under the “Road to London” programme, were approved by the National Sports Council for the Asian meet, which is held every four years.

Bibiana and Joseline finished out of the medals in Indonesia, but the former is one of the five shooters placed under the “Road to London” programme after winning the individual 10m air pistol gold medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi. The others are Hasli Izwan Amir Hasan, Hafiz Adzha, Nur Ayuni Farhana Halim and Nur Suryani Mohd Taibi, who became the first Malaysian shooter to book a spot for the London Olympics in the women’s 10m air rifle discipline last Saturday.

Joseline accepted the fact that she had failed to deliver a medal at the SEA Games but questioned the rationale behind her exclusion from Doha when Ishvari, who is not in the national programme, was allowed to pay her own way to compete despite not making the cut in the first place.

“I was very disappointed when I was told I could not go for the Asian Championships although I was ranked number one for the air pistol,” she said.

“I beat the qualifying mark three times for the 10m air pistol last year and I certainly never thought I would be left out.

“I appealed to the national body and was willing to pay my own way to compete in Doha as this was my last chance to make it to the Olympics.

“But they said no. It’s unfair but there’s nothing I can do,” said a dejected Joseline.

The 28-year-old shooter from Penang also won the gold in the same discipline at the South-East Asian shooting championships in Vientiane last year and is the joint holder of the national record for the discipline with Ishvari at 386 points.

While Joseline, who partnered Bibiana to a silver in the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, must be feeling bitter over her exclusion, her commitment to shooting remains as strong as ever.

“I still love shooting and this is the reason why I am still in it after more than 11 years. My dream is to compete in the Olympics but I guess I have to wait a few more years now,” she sighed.

Whether Joseline would have made a difference had she shot in Doha is anybody’s guess. But it is certain Malaysia will not have any extra representative in the women’s competitions at the Olympics through a wildcard since Suryani has qualified on merit.

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