Indian rifle and pistol shooters can finally heave a sigh of relief. After making do without foreign coaches for months, they will have two top-notch trainers to help them corner glory in the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
Following the Sports Ministry’s screening committee meeting on Thursday, Stanislav Lapidus and Smirnov Pavel have been short-listed as rifle and pistol coaches respectively. Lapidus, whose love for the camera is well known, is not new to India, having trained Abhinav Bindra, Gagan Narang, Anjali Bhagwat and Suma Shirur before 2004 Olympics.
In fact, Bindra owes much of his success to Lapidus who, despite being hired by the Army, had doubled up as the national team’s foreign expert before the Athens Games.
“He currently holds a senior position in the Kazakhstan Rifle Association besides being their national coach. But he is willing to relinquish charge to be with the Indian team,” said National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) secretary-general Baljeet Singh Sethi.
“He is likely to be with us by the first week of September,” he said. After his stint with the Army, Lapidus became Bindra’s personal coach and trained the Olympic gold-medallist at his range in Zirakpur (Chandigarh) for the 2006 World Championships and Doha Asian Games.
“He is better than Szucsak Laszlo of Hungary (the former foreign coach) in the .22 prone and three-position categories. Although officially his contract runs till the Commonwealth Games, we have extracted a promise from the ministry for his stay till the 2012 London Olympic Games,” said national coach Sunny Thomas.
Russian pistol coach Smirnov Pavel will fill the void left by Hungarian Csaba Gyorik whose term expired after the Beijing Games. “Pavel’s term with the Army expires shortly, after which he will become the national team’s foreign expert,” said Sethi. He, however, refused to divulge the financial package on offer.