Indian shooters impress new rifle coach

India’s newly-appointed rifle coach Oleg Mikhailov has said its shooters “belonged to the world’s top level”.

The standards of India’s shooters are already very high, says Mikhailov.   -  Shiv Kumar Pushpakar (Representational Image)

Indian shooters may not have been setting the stage ablaze in recent times but newly-appointed rifle foreign coach Oleg Mikhailov feels they are among the best in the world and only need polishing in their technique. Mikhailov, who had coached the Brazilian pistol team at the Rio Olympics last year, has so far spent about 10 days with the likes of Sanjeev Rajput and Tejaswini Sawant.

“I have been here with them for 10 days, so can’t comment in detail but I can say that this Indian team is very strong. They belong to the world’s top level. I will look to polish their technique and I can assure that I will give my best,” Mikhailov said. He added, “I don’t need to start from zero level here, which is my usual practice. It (the standard) is already at a very high level.”

The shooters were a picture of concentration as Mikhailov went up to them to offer his inputs. The Ukrainian kept an eye on each of them as they trained ahead of the season’s first ISSF World Cup starting on Thursday at the Dr. Karni Singh Shooting Range. The other shooters practising in the 50-metre range were Elizabeth Susan Koshy and Lajja Gauswami.

India is hosting its first International Shooting Sport Federation World Cup and Mikhailov felt there could be pressure on the shooters in front of their home crowd. “The pressure is much more while shooting at home because a lot of people are looking exactly at you, for them it doesn’t matter how others are doing. It’s a typical problem for all home competition, though,” he said.

New experience

For a man who has worked in various countries, India will be another new experience. “Before India, I worked with some other national teams, the last seven years I lived in Brazil which had a smaller team, and prepared them for the Olympic Games. Working with a big team like India will be an experience for me, though I also have experienced with other bigger teams in the world.”

The coach, who was supposed to join the team a couple of months earlier but landed only recently owing to visa issues, seemed to have found a few loopholes as far as organising the mega-event was concerned. “Look, it’s a new experience for your country too, first time a World Cup is being hosted. I am not sure right now if people in India understand perfectly all the questions (related to organisation).

“For example the final hall is still not ready, people who prepared this don’t have enough experience in this area, I agree. So, work should have started much earlier. But the same problem we had in Rio Games too, we had faced it in pre-Olympic event also. For future events it must start preparation well in advance, it’s the Indian shooters’ home range.”

A few shooters will appear in their maiden World Cup and asked about the fresh faces in the squad, Mikhailov said it’s important they gain in experience. “New shooters have a completely different task in this World Cup, we actually prepare them for the future. Yes, it’s a World Cup and their first time, first experience in how to shoot in big world-level competitions.” he said.

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