Shooting selection policy set for a tweak again
Reducing the number of selection trials in the Olympic year and giving breaks to elite shooters will be the order of the day.
A new Olympic cycle will begin for the Indian shooters this week when they appear in two domestic selection trials to make the cut for the World Championships -- the first event offering quota places for 2024 Paris Olympics.
The season has moved at a breakneck speed for the shooters in the first seven months, with three World Cups, a junior World Cup, pre-departure and technical training camps, besides four selection trials and domestic competitions. The fifth and sixth selection trials will be held in Bhopal (rifle) and Delhi (pistol) from Wednesday.
A new selection policy was introduced after the Tokyo Olympics debacle, with several tweaks to provide the best ground for the shooters to excel in Paris. However, the policy is expected to be overhauled again next season. The foreign coaches have put forward a proposal to bring changes to the existing policy with respect to reducing the number of selection trials in the Olympic year and giving breaks to elite shooters to work on their game.
Rifle coach Thomas Farnik said there has been discussion with coaches and NRAI over the selection policy.
“The shooters should have a resting period two times a year. It doesn’t mean resting but a period where they can try out things like work on new rifle, test ammunition, get rid of some mental stress. We have to have use breaks twice a year. Their schedule for 2023 needs to have only three or four trials. Next year there are a lot of competition and it will be little bit too much for the shooters,” said the Austrian who has competed in six Olympics.
He also said the coaching camps should be kept short.
This year the shooters already had three technical training camps. After the World Cup in Korea that ended on July 21 there was a week’s break followed by the ongoing camp at Karni Singh Range from July 28. “The current one is a three-week camp. Big training camps exhaust the shooters. We have to keep it short, like 5 days to 12 days. Coaches agree that we need to give them some time off before they are ready to hit the next peak,” said Farnik, who had set a world record score in 10m air rifle in 2006.
New foreign pistol coach Munkhbayar Dorjsuren, a two-time Olympic medallist, is in agreement.
“The number of domestic trials is too many. Sometimes, it is okay for a year, but we have to see it year to year and reduce it for top shooters looking at the ISSF calendar. India has great potential in shooting and we are here to work with mutual trust and learn from each other,” says Dorjsuren.
While the new selection policy, which has been in place since January, gives some respite as no shooter can now participate in more than two world cups, it has also come for some criticism. Unlike the previous policy of considering the average of best four out of five scores, now a moving average of scores in recognised tournaments -- domestic and international competitions – is accounted for. This has not only put additional burden on the shooters but there is no chance of error in case of one rank bad score in any event. It has made shooters choose their competitions -- even international – carefully.
While a new breed of young rifle and pistol shooters has come up, the likes of experienced Abhishek Verma, Apurvi Chandela -- who had gone to Tokyo as favourites -- have struggled to keep pace with the rapid changes as they took time off to recharge after Olympics. They will have to a lot of catching up to do to be part of the national team with the Olympic cycle looming.