She is not a shooter who shoots only to win medals in championships. She is a brave shooter who cannot compromise on self respect and dignity. If certain things are not acceptable for her, then she dares to say a ‘NO’ to it, irrespective of how valuable it might be for her career.
Being a reigning title holder of Asian Airgun Shooting Championship, it is a matter of prestige for her to retain it this year. However, she has withdrawn herself from participating in this year’s championship. Not because it is being organized in Iran or due to injury, but because of the compulsion on women participants to wear ‘hijab’.
India’s pride, Heena Sidhu told “forcing tourists or foreign guests to wear ‘hijab’, is against the spirit of the game. Since I don’t like it, I have withdrawn my name”. “You follow your religion and let me follow mine. I’ll not participate in this competition if you are going to force me to comply with your religious beliefs” she added.
She took this decision after the organizers made it clear on their official website that the female contestants will have to wear clothes in compliance with the rules of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The brave lady had withdrew from tournament in Iran before two years too. She confirmed that it was also for the same reason. She categorically said “It is only Iran which insists on such a code. It does not happen in other nations”.
Ms. Heena Sidhu is the first Indian Pistol shooter to be ranked World Number 1 by International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF). She is also the first Indian Pistol shooter to have won a Gold medal in the 2013 ISSF World Cup finals in 10 meter Air Pistol event. This Arjuna awardee is the first Indian shooter who has appeared on the ISSF magazine’s cover page for the first time ever since the National Rifle Association of India was formed in 1951. In her 10 years’ career as a shooter she has won 12 Gold, 7 Silver and 3 Bronze medals.
Though other shooters have agreed to participate in the event in Iran by complying to the Iranian tradition, Heena has stood with her decision of not to participate in the event. We should appreciate her decision and her guts to stand by her values, principles and morals with which she has grown up.