The National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) on Tuesday appointed two-time Olympic medallist shooter Munkhbayar Dorjsuren as the chief foreign coach of the national pistol team ahead of the ISSF World Cup in Changwon, Korea beginning on July 9.
The vastly-experienced Munkhbayar from Mongolia, who won bronze medals in the 25m pistol event in both the 1992 Barcelona and 2008 Beijing Olympics, had also trained shooter Rahi Sarnobat who had won a gold in the 2018 Asian Games. Sarnobat had become the first Indian shooter to achieve the rare feat.
According to NRAI officials, Munkhbayar was appointed keeping in mind her experiences, her understanding of the sport and most importantly, due to her worldwide reputation as a "fantastic mentor for budding shooters".
“Mrs Munkhbayar, apart from being a two-time Olympic medallist, has a wealth of experiences under her belt. We have given her a long-term contract, keeping in mind the next Olympic Games in 2024," NRAI Secretary General Kanwar Sultan Singh told PTI.
"She will also be working closely with both Samaresh Jung and Ronak Pandit, who are chief coaches for 10m and 25m pistol events.
"We were looking for someone who could train the shooters in a way which will benefit them in the long run. We interviewed her this week and decided to appoint her as she ticks all the right boxes," he added.
The decision to appoint a foreign pistol coach came days after the NRAI appointed Thomas Farnik as the foreign coach in the rifle event. The 55-year-old Farnik, who competed at six consecutive Olympic Games from 1992 to 2012, has already joined the Indian team and has started training the shooters, alongside chief coaches Joydeep Karmakar and Suma Shirur.
Similarly, the Indian shotgun team, too, has the legendary Australian Russel Mark as its foreign coach, apart from chief coaches Vikram Chopra and Shreayan Kapoor in the trap and skeet disciplines respectively.
The 58-year-old Russell is a gold medallist at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and a silver winner at the 2000 Sydney Games. He competed in six Olympic Games, the last one being the 2012 edition.
“This is a very interesting development and the NRAI’s decision to appoint top-quality foreign coaches speaks volumes on how seriously India is treating shooting before the next Olympic Games in Paris,” said Joydeep Karmakar, the newly appointed chief rifle coach.
“The NRAI has been following this pattern of having a foreign coach alongside two chief coaches across the three disciplines since 2002. That said, the decision to appoint top-quality foreign coaches and chief coaches this time will surely help the shooters to benefit immensely ahead of the next Olympic Games,” he added.