Manu Bhaker's Tokyo struggle triggers questions on fallout with Jaspal Rana months ahead of Olympics

While the concerned shooter and her family felt that Jaspal was insensitive in dealing with the 19-year-old, Jaspal has continued to emphasise that it was wrong to field Manu in three events in the Olympics.

Manu Bhaker has the chance in 25-metre sports pistol to wipe away the bad memories and assert her class.   -  AP

Was it right to break the winning combination of shooter Manu Bhaker and Dronacharya coach Jaspal Rana three months before the Tokyo Olympics?

While the concerned shooter and her family felt that Jaspal was insensitive in dealing with the 19-year-old, Jaspal has continued to emphasise that it was wrong to field Manu in three events in the Olympics.

Even the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) and its president Raninder Singh were unable to understand why Jaspal insisted that Manu focussed only on air pistol. They relied on a "merit’’ based selection policy. ‘’There was just one person who was the negative factor in the whole thing. I am referring to Jaspal Rana’’, Raninder had stressed in Tokyo.

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The NRAI president was quick to say that he could not resolve the issue despite two attempts, once during the World Cup in Delhi, and once afterwards, when he brought the shooter, her family and Jaspal together. "It is for reasons best known to him and the athlete concerned. They are unable to work together’’, Raninder said.

Equally, Raninder was unwilling to blame Jaspal for the results in Tokyo, especially the performance of Manu in air pistol so far.

‘’Our performance here is not Jaspal’s fault. I can’t hold him responsible for this. I can certainly say it might have had an impact on Manu to some extent’’, said Raninder.

On her part, Manu, quite a tough athlete mentally, continued to insist that she had been used to competing in three events in all international competitions for the last three years and that it could not lend a new dimension of pressure for the Olympics.

‘’I have been shooting three events in every competition. Why would it be a pressure?’’, countered Manu in Tokyo, after two events.

Manu, however, revealed that it was not her decision to part ways with coach Jaspal.

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‘’I did not choose to. It was not wanted. It just did not feel right at the moment. Of course, I am happy with the coach here’’, said Manu, about working with coach Ronak Pandit in Europe during preparation and now at the Olympics.

It was her pistol that malfunctioned during the individual women’s air pistol event, resulting in the loss of 18 precious minutes. She had an 8 on the last shot when a 10 could have put her in the final.

In mixed air pistol, Manu had four 8s, and two were on the last three shots in the second stage, when she and Saurabh Chaudhary missed the chance to reach the medal round by four points.

Pressure is inevitable after what Manu has experienced in the last few months, but the golden girl of Indian shooting has the chance in 25-metre sports pistol to wipe away the bad memories and assert her class.

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