Anne Grethe Jeppesen of Norway, who was the former national coach of Denmark and trained shooters for the 1992 and 1996 Olympics, besides being a A-Licence holder as an ISSF trainer, conducted a two-week camp in coordination with Gun For Glory, run by former Olympic medallist Gagan Narang, at the SATS ranges on the Central University campus here.
In a chat with Sportstar, Jeppesen shared her thoughts on her experience here.
Q: What made you visit India for these training sessions in different centres?
I’ve come to India, after seeing what Gagan was building down here. I really connected with that. I hail from a remote area on the west coast of Norway, and seeing the development of athletes from all across the country has really motivated me as well.
Q: How has been the experience of training the shooters in Hyderabad?
I would say the climate is quite different from what I’m used to and I found it a little challenging. However, the team here has been amazing and the experience in the current Project Leap camp with coaches and athletes coming in from all across the country.
Q: What impressed you the most about them?
Their level at such a young age, the effort they put in. The support of their parents. Their commitment to proving themselves. These are all qualities that set the athletes I’ve seen here a step ahead of the pack.
I also feel the kids are more professional. Normally they are busy with their schooling. The fact that they can set aside their academics for a short duration to completely focus on their sport indicates to me that there is an educational system that supports them to improve as athletes.
Q: What do you feel these shooters need to make it big in the days to come?
All athletes need to watch their health. There is a delicate balance between their training load and their physical and mental health. Maintaining that balance is an art. That’s what separates the best from the rest.
Q: What are the future plans in terms of connecting with these shooters after the camp gets over?
The Project Leap camps have been organised in such a way that even if I’m not able to stay in touch individually with each of them, I can count on the coaches in the Leap program to follow up with the students and then coordinate with me in turn. We have development and action plans in place that are strictly followed. I must thank the coaches at Gun For Glory - Neha Chavan, Bibaswan Ganguly and Nishant Nathwani among others - who have flown in from different parts of the country with their athletes and do a terrific job of ensuring the athletes follow the plan we have created for their improvement.
Q: Do you have plans to visit the shooting range in Hyderabad again?
We have camps all over the country in order to simulate different conditions, so you never know. I will, however, be back with my husband to enjoy Hyderabad, especially the culture and food - which is a little spicy for my taste - and also the incredible history rooted in this beautiful city.
Q: How do you look at the future of shooting in India?
I was just watching the ISSF World Championship men’s air rifle final. Rudrankksh Patil has done a phenomenal job. All in all, I can see the preparation in India is well on its way for Paris 2024, at least in shooting and at Gun for Glory. The dedication with which the people here are working means that the sport is definitely on the up and up.
Q: Your take on Gagan Narang and his endeavor to scout and groom talent through his Gun For Glory Academies?
I spoke to Gagan at a competition in Europe and that is when I really connected with the vision he had for building the sport of shooting in India. I have coaches in different countries, including Scotland and Denmark. But what I felt with Gagan was that despite his success in the sport, he retains the hunger to make a difference. I was also touched by the respect given to the coaches and mentors by everyone. It is a big part of Indian culture.
I also felt that the model of scouting talent is very different from where I am from and I liked it. It touches me that athletes from remote places are travelling thousands of kilometres to train at the best facilities, under the best coaches at Gun for Glory . What I saw about GFG’s scouting process, when I went to Chennai and Jabalpur as well, was the investment that went into developing things at the grassroot level. In Norway, there are clubs funded by the National federation that handle the beginners. The entry barrier is very high and we needed the federation’s support, whereas GFG has shown me a very different and yet highly efficient model of moulding shooters.
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