NRAI Olympic review report reveals flaws in preparation

The fact that range officials were being conveniently called as coaches was viewed as the basic flaw in Indian shooting and it was suggested that a core group of competent people should be entrusted with the task of taking care of the technical side of the sport.

Abhinav Bindra shooting Rio Olympics review

Abhinav Bindra, the chairman of the review committee, recused himself from discussing or commenting on the performances of the shooters in Rio Olympics.   -  K. Bhagya Prakash

Lack of monitoring and inadequate physical preparation were viewed as the major stumbling blocks that did not let Indian shooting contingent win a medal in the Rio Olympics.

Addressing the media here on Wednesday, the former World and Olympic champion Abhinav Bindra, the chairman of the review committee, made a clear statement that it was impossible to ‘’dissect performance’’ and the attempt was to find a way forward with a more professional and holistic approach which would benefit the current crop of shooters.

Even though the report found fault with the shooting federation, the president of the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI), Raninder Singh, who had set up the study committee in the first place, expressed his happiness about the ruthless manner in which the committee had put things in perspective. He said that the report was being made public in the larger interest of the sport.

Since Indian shooting had collected a gold, two silver and a bronze in the previous three Olympics, the performance in Rio was dwarfed.

Bindra had lost in a shoot-off and finished fourth, JItu Rai had made the air pistol final and placed eighth, Mairaj Ahmad Khan had missed skeet knock-out in the shoot-off and Gurpreet Singh placed seventh when six made the rapid fire pistol final.

Placing the facts in front and the observations of the coaches, the report found fault with the approach of Ayonika Paul, Gagan Narang and Manavjit Singh Sandhu.

As a fellow athlete, Bindra had recused himself from discussing or commenting on the performances of the shooters in Rio Olympics, but focused on giving suggestions.

While it was the maiden Olympics for Ayonika, who did not utilise the expertise of coaches and resources efficiently, it was the fourth Olympics for both Gagan and Manavjit. While one had excess weight, the other lost weight dramatically, leading to complications.

The report also picked holes in the shotgun training methodology in Italy as well as the lack of coordination with pistol coach Pavel Smirnov.

‘’Jitu Rai’s extraordinary talent was taken for granted to deliver an Olympic medal. Any level of talent is irrelevant without correct preparation for the Olympics," the report stressed.

Coach Ennio Falco, an Olympic champion, came for praise for preparing Mairaj Ahmad Khan in the best possible way and the helplessness of coach Stanislas Lapidus was captured in the report.

The fact that range officials were being conveniently called as coaches was viewed as the basic flaw in Indian shooting and it was suggested that a core group of competent people should be entrusted with the task of taking care of the technical side of the sport. It was suggested that the administration should try to generate funds and become self-reliant rather than be at the mercy of the Sports Authority of India (SAI) and the Union government.

Commending the performance of junior coaches Jaspal Rana and Deepali Deshpande, the report sought to empower them and support them with suitable personnel and equipment. It was also categorically spelt that the nationality of a shooter cannot form the basis of his or her remuneration and that it should purely be merit-driven.

It was felt that the Indian shooting could make a quantum jump if prominent shooters of the past were drafted into the coaching staff, for better guidance.

A functional range with world class facilities, including accommodation, which is possibly professionally run, maybe by the Army, was viewed as the best way to capitalise on the available infrastructure.

Mentioning the need to have quality professionals as armourers, physios, doctors etc., the report stated, ‘’less said about the physios deputed by SAI, the better’’.

Overall, it was observed that considering the inherent flaws in the system, Indian shooting had in fact ‘’overachieved’’, purely on the weight of the immense talent and perseverance of the shooters.

Having interacted with many shooters, coaches and other officials, the committee remarked that the NRAI should take a look at its selection policy, framing of calendar, appointment of coaches, conduct of skill development camps, revenue generation and become a shooter-friendly organisation.