- 'It is now widely accepted that the Government of India's Target Olympic Podium Scheme, TOPS, had shortcomings. However the sport of shooting was always a priority for Sports Ministry and the Sports Authority of India and no shooter suffered as a result of any bureaucratic delay.'
Criticised for lack of planning, the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) on Wednesday decided to accept the recommendations of Abhinav Bindra-led review committee, which looked into Indian shooters' flop show in Rio Olympics, in 'toto' and said it will form a separate panel to ensure the implementation of the suggestions.
NRAI president Raninder Singh said that the report did not blame anybody but gave recommendations to correct the faults which existed in the running of the sport.
Raninder, however, said the federation has reservation on one recommendation, which says the country should not hold any international competitions.
"We accepted the report in toto minus one suggestion that India should not host any international competition. We get funds from the government to conduct national and international events," Raninder said.
"Some suggestions are very good and some are very scathing criticism of NRAI which is welcome. In a day or two we will announce a committee which will ensure the implementation of the suggestions," he added.
Besides various recommendations, the review committee also suggested that the NRAI should invest on creating a strong domestic calendar rather than spending money on 'needless' international competitions, a view which did not go down well with the national federation.
Raninder said that as suggested by the review panel, the NRAI will soon hire a High Performance Manager, who will monitor the programme of all the shooters.
"There is a systematic problem and we will take up it with Sports Authority of India. When you do funding directly to an athlete it is very difficult for a federation to monitor," he said.
"One of the main things which came out in the report is that the NRAI is woefully inadequate in monitoring the athletes. So we will be very shortly hiring a one or may be even three High Performance Managers. We need to segregate the administrative part from the technical aspect as suggested by the report," Raninder said.
Taking the blame for Indian shooters poor show in Rio squarely on himself, Raninder said from now on their main emphasis will be on conducting quality national camps.
"The review committee, in its report, said that the conduct of national camps should be of world-class standard. And we agree that camps should not only be quantitative but qualitative," he said.
"NRAI is serious about the issue that a shooter has to have 85 per cent attendance in national camps. I don't care how it is essential if you want to represent India."
Beijing Olympics gold medallist Bindra, who headed the review panel, stressed on the need for quality national camps and said the national body needs to engage professionals to take the sport forward in the right direction.
"At the end of the day, the NRAI has to have professional people in place. They should have the ability to monitor all aspects and that's we have suggested in our report," Bindra said.
"The idea is to have world-class camps. I myself have never attended a national camp because there was hardly and and the quality of the camp was not good enough."
Unsparing on the under-performing shooters but equally scathing on coaches and the national federation, NRAI review committee hardly minced words as it chastised the Rio Olympics flop show while recommending a systematic overhaul.
The four-member committee, which had former Asian Games gold-medallist tennis player Manisha Malhotra as convener, has come out with a damning 36-page report reviewing the performance.
From seniors such as Gagan Narang, Manavjit Singh Sandhu and Heena Sidhu to the rising Ayonika Paul, none of the shooters could escape criticism.
"The inflexible attitude of Manavjit Sandhu despite repeated failure 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 majority of his time in Italy," the report said about veteran Sandhu.
"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," the report said.
Other recommendations which the committee suggested are that the NRAI needs to start grooming former shooters with a long term vision. The panel said the NRAI will have to start taking ownership of national camps and its athletes, and everything cannot be outsourced to Sports Authority of India (SAI).
It also recommended that the NRAI should have a robust working relationship with the Services and should also use the world class facilities of the Army Marksmanship Unit (AMU) in Mhow and consider the possibility of holding skill development camps there away from any distractions.
The Bindra-led panel also recommended that the Karni Singh Shooting Range in Tughlakabad here should be made the home base of Indian shooting.
The report also said that the Government of India's Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) has shortcomings, which needs to be addressed collectively.
"The interaction of NRAI with SAI, SAIs/GOI's funding under TOPS to shooting athlete, in specific the issue of unproven personal coaches and the effect of a resulting ineffective homogeneous national team. Then to make recommendations, if any, in how NRAI should take this matter up with SAI/GOI in a cordial and meaningful manner with a view to streamline any issues flagged therein.
"It is now widely accepted that the Government of India's Target Olympic Podium Scheme, TOPS, had shortcomings. However the sport of shooting was always a priority for Sports Ministry and the Sports Authority of India and no shooter suffered as a result of any bureaucratic delay," it said.
"Any delay which occurred did so because of the inability of the shooter to present relevant training plans on time rather than the disbursement of funds. Training funds were sanctioned for all shooters who put forth their plans and in that regard TOPS was rather partial to Indian shooting based on past results," it said.