Jacob Roberts / Staff Writer
JANUARY 5, 2017 12:11 PM
Gibsons’ marksman Allan Harding has been working towards a goal of shooting
in the 50m pistol event at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, but a recommendation
to remove the event may stand in his way.
Gibsons marksman Allan Harding has dreams of shooting in the Olympics, but his main event – the 50m pistol – might not see the light of day at Tokyo 2020.
In an effort to encourage gender equality at the Olympics, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is working with international federations – including the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) – to encourage mixed gender team events. That could mean the elimination of certain male-only events, like the 50m pistol.
“That’s what I’ve been focusing on for the last couple of years,” Harding said. “It’s what I was setting my sights on for Tokyo 2020, the 50m pistol event. I find it to be the toughest pistol event – or shooting event – in the world. The target has never changed, it’s never been reduced the way that other events have.
“Over time, targets have gotten smaller because people in the competition have gotten better,” Harding said. “Records were being tied so they made the targets smaller to set new records. But the 50m pistol event – that target – has never changed because it’s so difficult no one has ever come close to hitting a perfect score. To see it go away would just be really sad.”
The question many people are asking is, why not let women compete in the 50m pistol instead of removing it entirely – but the reality, Harding explained, is that there is limited time to develop a women’s 50m event internationally for the next Olympic Games.
The recommendation is to remove the 50m pistol event – as well as the 50m rifle prone men and double trap men (a shotgun event) – and replace them with mixed gender events. Chairman of the ISSF Athletes Committee Abhinav Bindra released a statement encouraging shooters to “look at the bigger picture.”
“Shooting currently has nine men’s events and six women’s events on the Olympic program, so major changes are necessary,” Bindra said.
“Several factors such as universality, sport presentation, grassroots development, sustainability, environmental and cost factors were taken into consideration,” Bindra said. “The huge success of the 10m air mixed team events at the Youth Olympics was also considered and we were informed of the encouraging response of the IOC towards the mixed events.”
Currently these men’s shooting events are still on the Olympic slate – their removal is just a recommendation – but Harding is concerned that the ISSF is leaning towards cutting his primary event.
“I think it’s a really slippery slope if they start to move away from the non-air pistol events and I hate to see them go in that direction,” Harding said. “50m pistol has been in the Olympics for over 100 years.”
Harding said he plans to shift his focus back to the 10m Air pistol event, but he hasn’t given up on the 50m pistol, as it will still be a competitive event at the international level.
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Posted by Thm Erik Syrdahl
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