If we aren’t winning Olympic medals, time to tweak system: Shotgun coach Mansher Singh
With the 2020 Tokyo Olympics qualification rounds also on this year, the task is cut out for the new national shooting coach for shotgun events, Mansher Singh.other sports Updated: Feb 19, 2018 23:48 IST
Former international trap shooter Mansher Singh has taken over as national coach for shotgun events. He joins up at a time when the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) is under tremendous pressure to deliver.
After a dismal performance at the 2016 Rio Olympics – for the first time in four Games, India didn’t win a shooting medal – the team is gearing up for major international events, including the Commonwealth Games (April) and Asian Games (August-September). With the 2020 Tokyo Olympics qualification rounds also on this year, the task is cut out for the new coach. In an interview, the four-time Olympian spells out his result-oriented programme.
In the last three Olympics, shotgun shooters were off target. How do you plan to change that?
My first step is to have a big pool of 9-10 shooters in each discipline (trap, skeet) in men and women’s groups. Some talented juniors will also be inducted into the senior group so they get mentally mature as early as possible. There is big difference between winning a junior world title and performing at senior global events.
What else do you plan to change in the current setup?
I believe training at home will benefit shooters the most. The Dr Karni Singh Shooting Ranges in Delhi is as good as any other world class range. At the same time, I’m not averse to training on foreign soil before a big event. We are preparing data on the correlation between training abroad before a big match and overall performance of an individual. The system that is more productive will be followed.
You mean the current system needs to be modified?
After winning double trap silver at the 2004 Athens Olympics (RVS Rathore), national team members have returned empty-handed in three successive Olympics. The system is as good as the end result. If we are not winning medals in Olympics or World Championships on a regular basis, it’s time to make some adjustments. Also, since the 2006 World Championships in Zagreb, the top shooters haven’t tasted success. All this hints that fine-tuning is a must.
What about the role of foreign experts with the national squad. Any plans to make changes?
It is not for me to comment on foreign coaches, it’s the role of the federation to evaluate and file annual report on that, but everyone associated with the national team should be accountable. Without that there will be no progress. I believe there should be more coordination between Indian and foreign coaches. For example, in the absence of Marcelo Dradi (Italian shotgun expert), he has been there with the national team for over a decade, there should be continuation in the training programme for consistent performance.
You are also overseeing a project in Bhopal. As national coach, how will you manage both?
There will be no clash of interest. I have briefed the federation and government on my commitments and it has been agreed in principle. If am not travelling with the national team, I will visit the Bhopal shotgun academy for a week once in 30 days. The project is to scout young talent in the catchment area and shouldn’t be neglected.
Will you prefer annual contract or long term?
The four-year Olympic cycle is important. You have enough time to make adjustments and reap the benefits.
Are you happy with the coaching staff, or will you make changes?
It’s good. We have M Padmanabhan as high-performance director. Hope things work out.