The major reason for India's superb performance in shooting at last year's Commonwealth Games was the uninterrupted two-year coaching camp. But preparations for the London Games have left a lot to be desired.
“We don’t know who’s at fault — the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) or the sports ministry, but it’s affecting our training. This year, we have had just seven days of the national camp for rifle and pistol and that was in March-April. A seven-day camp (June 8-14) was held in Hanover, Germany, before the Munich World Cup, but that was only for a few. Shooters have no option but to train all by themselves,” said a CWG medallist.
Where’s the coach?
For the first time, three pistol shooters, including two women, have qualified for the Olympics, but since the 2008 Olympics — when Hungarian Csaba Gyorik left following the expiry of his term — no one has been brought to fill his vacancy.
Before the CWG, some of the country’s top pistol marksmen had hired coach Anatoli Poddubni by paying on their own.
Lack of support
The coach issue apart, there is no support staff for the shooters either. Though the national sports federations (NSFs) have the ministry's nod to appoint support staff, including doctors, physiotherapists and masseurs for the Olympic preparations, the NRAI has failed to appoint anyone, except a dietician.
“During the CWG camps and the one we had this year, a lady dietician used to come. But she never interacted with us, and we don't know for what purpose she was been roped in,” said a senior woman shooter.
“The federation need not worry. Even without a coach, camps and support staff, we will win medals,” she said.
NRAI advisor, Baljit Singh Sethi said, “The ministry has given us the go-head for the support staff. Whenever we have the camp, we will rope them as per requirement.”
On the issue of foreign coach, he said, “Talks are on with a US-based pistol coach and we are waiting for his reply.”