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Shooting: 'Nobody knows who will go for Olympics'

April 19, 2024 20:21 IST

IMAGE: Manu Bhaker's personal coach Jaspal Rana slammed the National Rifle Association of India over the delay in naming the Indian shooting contingent for the Paris Olympics. Photograph: Lukas Schulze/Reuters

Legendary pistol marksman Jaspal Rana has expressed grave concerns over the delay in naming the Indian shooting contingent for the Paris Olympics, saying it will leave the selected shooters with little time for the final phase of preparations.

Several countries, including the US and Italy, and many European powerhouses have announced their squads and their shooters are in the final phase of fine-tuning their skills and programs for the Olympics, even as India commenced its nearly month-long exercise on Friday.

The top-five ranked shooters in pistol and rifle category will undergo four trials -- April 19-27 (New Delhi, trial 1 and 2) and May 10-19 (Bhopal, trial 3 and 4) -- and the selection for Paris will be done after that, leaving precious little time for the last phase of training.


The Paris Olympic Games will commence on July 26.

The National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) has completed the trials in shotgun events, but they are yet to announce the squad in the hope that a few more shooters might secure Paris quotas in the final Olympic Qualification Championship, which started in Doha on Friday.

"We are not in the same category of training and preparation as other people are getting around the world. They (strong countries in shooting sport) have already selected their teams and started their training and we are behind schedule," said Padma Shri and Arjuna Awardee shooter Rana against the NRAI's policy.

"Nobody knows so far who is going and who is not going. That puts a lot of pressure on the players who have won quota places, while those who have not won the quota places there is a lot less pressure," added the four-time Asian Games gold medallist, who is the personal coach of Olympian Manu Bhaker.

In shooting, shooters win quota places for the country and the federation decides the contingent based on their performance in trials, national and international competitions.

Rana also flayed the ongoing trials at the Karni Singh Ranges, saying he had never seen a competition where only five shooters per event were short-listed.

As per the ISSF rules, eight shooters qualify for the finals in pistol and rifle events, barring men's 25m rapid-fire, where six make it to medal round.

"Well, I have never seen five shooters (competing) in (the final), so I don't know (what is happening). I never shot like that in my life. I'm seeing five shooters competing for the first time.

"At least, three more shooters should have been there. They should have at least completed the number of shooters in the finals... perhaps added three 'zero' shooters. They (NRAI) should have considered including zero shooters (to complete the ISSF requirement)," he added.

'Zero' shooters are not in contention for medals or quota places but complete the minimum requirements in a competition.

"Yes, I'll be targeted for saying this, but I think there should have been three more shooters (as per the ISSF requirement). There are a lot of things that we can complain about, there are a lot of things which can be improved. But whatever is there is there (in front of everyone), and the shooters have to be ready for anything," he added.

Jaspal felt a series of four trials was a bit too much and gave little time in between to rest and recover.

In case of Manu and Asian Games gold-medallist Esha Singh, they will have to appear in eight trials as the duo is in contention in 10m air pistol and 25m rapid-fire event. That puts added pressure on their physical and mental well-being over a duration of a month.

"My personal view is shooters should be ready for anything, but honestly this is too much. They (federation) could have have used some of the scores in (national and internationals) competitions as trial scores. You (NRAI) have all the options, provided you want to do it," he said.

Asked if this was the ideal situation for shooters to de-stress, when not even two days are there between trials, he said, "There is no time (to de-stress). There is not good enough time even between the trials in Delhi and Bhopal."

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