In less than than three months of training, new coach Ronak Pandit and Indian pistol shooter Manu Bhaker have put together a plan and worked on her performance in the final to boost the teen’s hopes of a podium finish at the Tokyo Olympics.

Pandit has been guiding Bhaker since she parted ways with national junior coach Jaspal Rana after the ISSF World Cup in New Delhi in March. He has Bhaker for about a month and a half during the Indian team’s tour of Croatia, overseeing her final phase of preparations.

“We have trained for about two and a half to three months and put in a plan for her,” Pandit told PTI from Tokyo.

One of three pistol shooting coaches with the Indian team, Pandit has full faith in Bhaker’s abilities and says the huge expectations don’t bother either the shooter or himself.

“Thee are pros and cons of expectations but Manu, even at the age of 16 and 17, was shooting in World Cups and winning medals. She is very level-headed and is used to such pressure and expectations. Ahead of the Olympics, she is calm and composed, fully focused on the task,” he said.

Pandit also said that it is important to ensure that the shooters are protected from any sort of distraction in the time between the qualifications and the finals.

While the Indian team did not get enough time to practice on Wednesday, the official practice training began on Thursday. “We had a short 20-30 minutes training yesterday as official training only began from today.

Calling Bhaker an accomplished shooter, Pandit said they focussed mainly on performing in pressure situations.

“We prepared a lot for the finals, discussed about how the mind affects the body and how we could manage the mind better for better execution of the technique. We have made good progress in the time we got and I am satisfied with it.

“They just need to focus on the process and not think much about the results. Appearing in the Olympics is different from other events,” he said.

Armed with years of experience in coaching after an active career as a pistol shooter, Pandit is optimistic about the Indian shooters’ prospects in Tokyo. He had travelled to London and Rio de Janeiro for the 2012 and 2016 Games, in his capacity as personal coach to Heena Sidhu, his wife and one of India’s finest female pistol shooters.

In Tokyo, Pandit will have his hands full as Bhaker will be shooting in three events – 10m individual and mixed team (with Saurabh Chaudhary), and 25m pistol – but he is up for it and so is the shooter, who is world No 2 in 10m air pistol.

Meanwhile the air rifle shooters from various countries on Thursday practiced in the finals hall, including India’s Divyansh Singh Panwar who will shoot on the second competition day on July 25.

The Olympics are scheduled to be held from July 23 to August 8, with the shooting events spread across the first 10 days, which will be held without spectators owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.

With PTI Inputs