Jaspal Rana: Financial help from extraneous sources a distraction for aspirants

“We need to have a uniform policy for all,” the pistol coach says.

Jaspal Rana (left) with Yashaswini Singh Deshwal, who won the individual gold in junior women air pistol in the Junior World Shooting Championship.   -  Special Arrangement

Pistol coach Jaspal Rana was “happy and satisfied” that India stood second on the medal table behind the all-conquering China in the Junior World Shooting Championship. India won eight medals, including three gold.

In a field that had 65 countries, it was some achievement by India that it was positioned ahead of Ukraine, Russia, Hungary, Korea, Croatia, Norway, Czech Republic, Finland, Austria and Japan - all of them managed to win at least a gold medal.

Yashaswini Singh Deswal was the pick of the lot in the 31-member contingent as she won the individual gold in junior women air pistol with a world record. In terms of numbers, Anish Bhanwala was unbeatable as he won the standard pistol gold, sports pistol silver apart from a team gold and a silver, in the non-Olympic events. Of course, he was part of the team bronze in rapid fire pistol.

Jaspal, who had won three individual Asian Games gold medals in all, in 1994 in Hiroshima and in Doha in 2006, felt that both Yashaswini and Anmol Jain, who missed the individual medal but clinched the mixed team gold, had the potential to win a medal in the World Championship and Olympics, if nurtured well.

Even as the government spends a fortune on the shooters, Jaspal felt that money from extraneous sources was proving to be a big distraction, as there was no accountability. Some of that money is used to help parents travel with the kids for international competitions and Jaspal has not been amused.

Need for uniform policy

“We need to have a uniform policy for all. Some of the kids whose parents did not accompany them may wonder why some have been given special permission by the national federation. Many kids have private coaches, trainers, but their scores are dipping. We need to trust the team coaches and allow the kids to become strong. Do the parents accompany their kids to the examination halls or for that matter attend the training camps?,” asked Jaspal.

He stated categorically that it was not a question of interference by the parents or otherwise, but a matter of empowering the kids and letting them grow, to face the challenges in life as much as the competition, on their own strength.

“We are losing 10 to 12 kids every year, as they are not able to sustain their good performances because of distractions. The focus is on fancy cars, fancy shoes and who can afford what. It is unhealthy. Kids require three to four years to reach a certain standard, but are lost easily,” bemoaned Jaspal.

A pistol prodigy in his time, Jaspal warned that the countries overtaken in the Junior World Championship in Germany by India did not like it one bit and would try extra hard to get ahead. “They are hurt badly. Nobody likes to hear your national anthem in their country,” he remarked.

Jaspal felt that it was important to focus on the youth for a good performance in the Youth Olympics and Asian Youth Games, but said that the budget was being cut for the youth. He was not too pleased with the fact that the best of shooters who have proven their calibre on the global stage were being asked to prove themselves repeatedly in selection trials which was proving counter-productive.

‘Not machines’

“The kids are not machines, to keep shooting high scores all the time. They will peak and then the performance will go down. It is a natural phenomenon. We should be able to nurture the top shooters with proven ability on the big stage,” he argued.

The disappointment of the rifle shooters not winning a medal notwithstanding, “we did very well here, but how many will stay on in the sport for the next four to five years ?” queried Jaspal.

With State governments like Haryana showering the riches on the shooters for international medals, Jaspal felt that it was difficult to keep the shooters focussed on the sport and train hard. “Nobody wants to move from the air-conditioned 10-metre range to the 25-metre range because it is too hot,” Jaspal said cheekily, trying to capture the essence of the attitude of the youngsters.

Even though he was keen to protect the talented shooters and take them forward, Jaspal said that it was a two way process. “Those who want to work, I am there 200 per cent. But those who don’t want, I am not there 100 per cent,” he stressed.

The attempt is to stick to sound basics. “It is not about technique. We don’t change even the stance as there is no time to do that. But we make sure that the phones are kept away and they are off Facebook,” said Jaspal.

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