Sunday, February 4, 2007

Now Ukrainians in Irina's way


TO shoot for Malaysia, Irina Maharani will have to get approval from four
Yes, two more associations than the last count.
Earlier, the National Shooting Association (NSAM) said that Irina will
need the approval of NSAM and the Russian Shooting Union (RSU) to shoot at
the Commonwealth Games.
There are no problems with NSAM and yesterday, they added the Moscow
Shooting Federation (MSF) and the Ukranian Shooting Federation (USF) to
the list.
All because what was formerly known as the Soviet Union, are now
separate republics.
They have the go-ahead from the RSU and the MSF but the USF are hard to
"The problem here is that Irina was shooting for the Soviet Union when
they were still intact and won medals under the Ukrainian, Moscow and
Russian associations," said NSAM secretary-general Datuk J.J. Raj.
"Now that the Soviet Union are no longer, we have to approach the three
separately to satisfy the International Shooting Federation (UIT) ruling."
Only when the letter of release is received from Ukraine can NSAM appeal
to UIT to allow Irina to participate in the shooting competition in
Langkawi on Sept 13-20.
The 37-year-old 1986 sport pistol world champion became a Malaysian
citizen in July after she finished ninth among 105 shooters at the World
Championships in Barcelona and has since been under the spotlight because
the National Sports Council (NSC) and the NSAM did not realise the
Under the Commonwealth Games Federation ruling, which states that an
athlete has to fulfill a three-year residency requirement, Irina is
cleared to shoot.
But under UIT rulings, she has to be a citizen of three years, which she
is not.
However, there is a loophole in the ruling which the NSAM hope to
According to a sub-clause in the UIT rulings, she will be able to shoot
if she receives a release letter from her former associations.
"It will be tough (to contact Ukraine) because communications are not
very good in that part of the world, but we are confident of getting a
favourable reply," said Raj.
"If not, she will coach the air and sport pistol shooters."
It is understood that as a contingency measure, Bibiana Ng Pei Chin has
been included into the squad.
Meanwhile, NSC director of athletes preparation Azizan Zainol said the
six-day motivation camp at Universiti Tenaga Nasional in Bangi is not
compulsory for the shooters because they are training in Langkawi.
The camp, beginning tomorrow, is the final phase of training for the
Malaysian contingent to the Games.