The Indian shooting team, in quest of Olympic preparation, was given a warm welcome in Zagreb, Croatia, as it landed at 2am local time, in a 180-seater SpiceJet chartered flight, on Wednesday.
The 13 shooters, seven coaches, five physios and a two-member video crew, were given single rooms each at the hotel, where they would be in a week-long isolation.
"We are happy and excited to be your host for your Olympic preparations. We will do all in our power to make your stay pleasant and memorable," assured the communication from the Zagreb Shooting Association to the Indian squad.
Two of the coaches Neha Chavan, the guide for Elavenil Valarivan, and Pavel Smirnov did not accompany the team.
"One of us will be there for the World Cup to iron out the chinks, if necessary," said Gagan Narang, as he explained the decision to let Elavenil be on her own.
"We had planed for the camp in Delhi. When Croatia was decided, we had to rework the strategy. We have programmed Elavenil to be independent, in training and competitions." said Gagan, as he added, "On the firing line in the Olympics, you are alone."
"Pavel’s visa application is pending with the Embassy," said Rajeev Bhatia, the secretary of the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI).
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Thus, the five pistol shooters will be guided by the lone pistol coach, the experienced Ved Prakash Pilaniya.
Earlier, Apurvi Chandela got her COVID-19 negative report in time to join the team from Jaipur, and her coach Rakesh Manpat joined the squad from Bengaluru, to catch the chartered flight, arranged by the national federation in collaboration with the Sports Ministry.
In Zagreb, the air pistol and rifles have been allowed to be kept in the rooms of the shooters for "dry practice", while the rest of the arms and ammunition have been kept in the armoury.
The team is scheduled to shoot at the European championship from May 20 at Osijek, which will also host the World Cup from June 22.
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