Olympic shooting team back on track: High-performance coach Deepali

After two stints of training at the Dr. Karni Singh Range in recent months, the cream of Indian shooting will be joined by a larger bunch for the ensuing selection trials.

Deepali Deshpande (C) along with Oleg Mikhailov, Anjum Moudgil and Tejaswini Sawant.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

The Indian shooters have been preparing in silence, away from the media glare, diligently following the Covid-19 protocols.

After two stints of training at the Dr. Karni Singh Range in Tughlakabad in recent months, the cream of Indian shooting will be joined by a larger bunch for the ensuing selection trials.

"I was very happy with the training camps. The timing was perfect, in terms of getting the Olympic team back on track. The basics are in place. Now, the trials are also timed well, to kick start the national activities. It is time to test the shooters in competition,’’ said high-performance coach for rifle, Deepali Deshpande.

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She observed that owing to uncertainty about international events, the domestic competition was the only way for shooters to test their competitive preparedness.

Before the pandemic broke out, the national shooting federation was all set to announce the team for the Tokyo Olympics. In the postponed scenario, there is no evidence as yet of any new selection criteria.

"I believe that selection would primarily be based on the existing policy. But, we will check shooters in trials, as a long time has elapsed since the last selection score,’’ Deepali said.

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Quite forthright, Deepali stressed that it was important to keep the shooters on their toes.

"We can’t allow them to go back to the comfort zone of stress-free life that we all experienced during lockdown. We must have coaching camps and competitions at regular intervals till the Olympic Games," she said.

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The first World Cup for rifle, pistol and shotgun is scheduled to be staged at the Dr. Karni Singh Range from March 18. The Olympic quota winners will be fielded in the World Cup, irrespective of their national rank, while the rest will earn their berth based on rank.

Four sets of trials, two each in January and February, will give a clear indication of where the shooters stand in terms of being able to match world standards.

"There are some new mixed events, like the rifle 3-position. So, the team will have five shooters instead of three in an event," revealed Deepali.