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Asian Games 2018: Foreign hand gets in the way of physios for Indian shooters

The Asian Games 2018 contingent has four Indian coaches --- Jaspal Rana, Ronak Pandit, Suma Shirur and Mansher. Four foreign coaches --- Marcelo Dradi, Mikhailov Oleg, Falco Ennio and Smirnov Pavel --- too have travelled.

asian games 2018 Updated: Aug 23, 2018 22:04 IST
Ajai Masand
Ajai Masand
Hindustan Times, Jakarta
Asian Games 2018,Asian Games 2018 shooting,Asian Games 2018 shooting India
Indian 10m Air Pistol team -Saurabh Chaudhary, Manu Bhaker and Abhishek Verma - pose after a practice session in Jakarta.(PTI)

There is a strong undercurrent of discontent in the 28-member Indian shooting contingent over the absence of a physiotherapist, who, according to players and coaches, is a basic requirement, especially since India now bring medals by the bagful from the Asian Games.

The contingent has four Indian coaches --- Jaspal Rana, Ronak Pandit, Suma Shirur and Mansher. Four foreign coaches --- Marcelo Dradi, Mikhailov Oleg, Falco Ennio and Smirnov Pavel --- too have travelled. The presence of eight coaches has not left any slot for a physiotherapist or manager as only eight accreditations were given by the Indonesian Asian Games Organising Committee (INAGSOC) for support staff.

Ronak Pandit, the coach of the pistol team, who is doubling as manager, asked: “Why does India need so many foreign coaches now? There was a time when they were a necessity. But now, many Indian shooters who have quit, or are on the verge of quitting, are better equipped to train those coming through the junior training programme of the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI).”

While Jaspal’s wards Manu Bhaker, Saurabh Chaudhary and Anish Bhanwala, have dazzled in the pistol arena around the world, Mansher’s band of young shotgun shooters, among them Lakshay Sheoran, have made a splash at the Asian Games, second only to the Olympics in terms of competitiveness.

“The foreign coaches are blocking four slots which should ideally have gone to physios, masseurs, perhaps a dietician and a manager,” said another male Indian coach with more than two decades of experience in the sport. The coach requested anonymity given the sensitive nature of the issue.

READ: Asian Games 2018: After winning silver, Shardul Vihan plans to switch event

Jaspal, a four-time Asian Games gold-medallist was equally scathing. “Shooting is our passion and we are passing the years of experienced gained to the youngsters. And then, when you look at their (foreign coaches’) salaries, we get a pittance. It took six years of the junior training programme to bring the kids to this level; what role have they (the foreign coaches) played? They are all coaching seniors,” he said.


All Indian coaches are doubling as managers. “We have two deputy chefs de mission in Palembang --- Balbir Singh Kushwaha and Col Satyawrat Sheoran --- who we see only during the medals ceremony. Agreed, it’s an honorary post but they could at least help us in coordination here as events are running simultaneously and shooters now look more towards their Indian coaches than foreign trainers for instructions and guidance. We can either be managers or coaches at any given point in time,” said the coach who didn’t want to give his name.

Three physios from the not-for-profit foundation Olympic Gold Quest (OGQ) ---- Alap Jawadekar, Zeinia Samar and Jay Yadav -- who stay outside the Jakabaring Complex come every morning on guest passes arranged by Indian coaches, so that they can help out in rest and recovery of the competitors here.

“We look at a range of things, like keeping them injury-free, how to enhance their performance and help them recover after competition. We also go into every possible detail like which muscle in the body needs hydration, etc. So it’s a very complicated subject,” said Jawadekar.

The Indian contingent could well have taken a leaf out of the Bangladesh team’s book. Bangladesh have a team leader, two team officials and two foreign coaches accompanying a 16-member contingent. They also have a press attaché at hand to answer any query from foreign correspondents.

First Published: Aug 23, 2018 22:03 IST

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