Rio show: A dozen tales of failure!

"The lack of expert guidance for Jitu Rai, the best shooter in India, despite no dearth of support from the Army and the government, further highlights the lack of proper planning. His extraordinary talent was taken for granted to deliver an Olympic medal. Any level of talent is irrelevant without the correct preparation for the Olympics."

Mairaj Ahmed Khan followed the coach's advice to the full.   -  The Hindu Photo Library

This was what the review committee of the NRAI, that went into the shooters’ flop show in Rio, said about each and every shooter who took part in the event:

Heena Sidhu: The assessment of Heena Sidhu and her husband and coach Ronak Pandit was accurate, especially about the absence of a mentor of the calibre of Anatolii Piddubnyi. Heena has now reached a stage where she has to take some tough calls regarding her events. Maybe, she should use the training year 2017 to judge whether the 25m sports pistol actually complements her favourite 10m air pistol.

Apurvi Chandela: The claims of coach Stanislas Lapidus about the struggle to get funds for training are misleading. Apurvi’s case was one of the first to be approved in the TOPS scheme. However, funds could not be released until Apurvi submitted a training plan and schedule. Lack of monitoring caused an accidental injury during cryotherapy. The lack of sleep and the disturbance on the eve of competition should have been visualised and the athlete could have been protected, or better prepared.

Ayonika Paul: Her approach to the Olympics shows the flip side of allowing athletes, especially young ones, the power to chalk their own course. They are clearly not equipped or mentally ready to shoulder the responsibility. The projection of Thomas Farnik as the coach and Suma Shirur only as a mentor, was purely for financial gains. There has to be absolute honesty of effort while preparing for the Olympics. It was immature on the part of Paul to have protested the two shots in the last series of the Olympics, without consulting her coach.


Jitu Rai: The foreign coach Pavel Smirnov did not have the expertise in the precision events to help Jitu Rai win an Olympic medal. Rai’s admission of his inability to find a working relationship with Smirnov further put the shooter in a precarious position of coming up with his own training plans. The lack of expert guidance for the best shooter in India, despite no dearth of support from the Army and the government, further highlights the lack of proper planning. His extraordinary talent was taken for granted to deliver an Olympic medal. Any level of talent is irrelevant without the correct preparation for the Olympics.

Prakash Nanjappa: Issues with the National coach Pavel Smirnov impeded his training and preparation for the Olympics. Even after repeated requests, the coach delayed in giving him a clear training plan and the attention that he deserved. It was only after the repeated snubs that Nanjappa managed to find a reputed Korean coach in April, who prepared him in the best possible manner. However, the delay in training affected his performance.

Gurpreet Singh: Though he came up with a creditable performance, the lack of coordination between the NRAI and the Army cost him a shot at a medal. It must be noted that though he was training with one of the legends of the sport, Ralf Schumann, last minute preparations cannot win you an Olympic medal. Change of coaches, even to a world class one, may not produce desired results when done at a later stage.

Abhinav Bindra: It was a good closure for a brilliant career, even though it lacked the fairytale finish. A classic example of how resources, planning and expertise can be best utilised with sincerity despite all the physical troubles that he had to counter on a regular basis. It also must be stated that the best planning and preparation cannot script the ideal result.

Gagan Narang: Coach Stanislas Lapidus was very clear that his training schedule was not followed by Narang, which was informed many times to the NRAI. However, no action was taken. The issue of fitness was ignored and the NRAI was in the dark about Narang carrying a heel injury into the Olympics. Proven athletes who have the means provided to them must be closely monitored to ensure that training plans are diligently followed. The NRAI must be in constant touch with the expert to have a clear picture of the training phase. It was a clear case of an athlete not being ready to take the load of three events. The lack of monitoring and coordination between all the stakeholders clearly caused the NRAI to take an ill-informed decision.

Chain Singh: When it comes to the Olympics, cold and ruthless decisions should be taken in the best interests of the country and not decisions that are seen from the prism of political considerations. If there was even a 10 percent doubt about Chain Singh’s fitness, a replacement should have been pursued. Sanjeev Rajput had won a silver medal at the Baku World Cup in 3-position ahead of the Games and was in good form. The NRAI also did not coordinate the training of Chain Singh with the Army Marksmanship Unit. The AMU was coordinating directly with OGQ for tickets etc., of its shooters and it comes as a surprise when Chain admits that the training plans were rather haphazard. There was absolutely no monitoring by the NRAI which felt it had done its duty by recommending TOPS funding.

Mairaj Ahmad Khan: A commendable performance. A good example of an outside shot, who was sincere, being able to perform very well simply by following the plans of a good coach for a long period.

Manavjit Singh Sandhu: The inflexible attitude of Manavjit Sandhu despite repeated failures in the Olympics is disappointing. It was time to adopt a new approach. Coach Marcello Dradi also stated that actual training with him was negligible, despite Sandhu spending the majority of his time in Italy. There was no paucity of funds, but there was no inclination to take the right path. The rapid weight loss in the run-up to the Olympics was done without expert advice, leading to a lot of complications.

Kynan Chenai: It was disappointing to learn that there was absolutely no supervision from coach Dradi during training camps in Masari, Italy. There was possibly too much repetition in cementing errors, instead of improving. By backing him with an Olympic berth, the NRAI invested in the future. It should continue to support the talented shooter with more international competitions.

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