After another disappointing day for the contingent at the Tokyo Olympic Games, Indian shooting federation chief Raninder Singh spoke about the issues that have been brewing in the background.
Singh called out national junior pistol coach Jaspal Rana on Tuesday, saying he was a negative factor ahead of the ongoing Olympics, where the shooters have fallen short so far.
Talking to media in Tokyo after the pair of Indian pair of Saurabh Chaudhary and Manu Bhaker crashed out in the second qualification stage of the 10m air pistol mixed team, the National Rifle Association of India president shed light on the fallout between Bhaker and Rana after this year’s first World Cup in Delhi.
He revealed that he had tried to fix the situation but both parties did not want to work together, which is why Ronak Pandit was brought in as her coach for the last few months as the Indian team were flown to Croatia in May to train without the lockdown restrictions
The controversy involving Bhaker and her former coach Rana has been brewing for a while now, and Singh recounted what had happened.
“There was just one person who was the negative factor in the whole thing, and I am calling it right now.. I am referring to Jaspal Rana,” Singh told a group of reporters who are in Tokyo.
“Before the tour to Croatia, during the World Cup in Delhi and before that, there was a lot of internal wrangling in the pistol squad among coaches. That was addressed to all by me in person in an eight-page letter I wrote prior to the team leaving for Croatia. I think every body respected that,” he added.
While the veteran administrator made it clear that Rana cannot be blamed for the poor performance, he said that the incidents could have had a bearing on Bhaker’s game. “Our performance here is not Jaspal’s fault. I can’t hold him responsible for this. I can certainly say it might have had an impact on Manu to some extent.”
Singh said that it was he who brought Rana in for the national junior program, which has seen much success, but he can’t force athletes to work with a certain coach when they don’t want to.
“I cannot speak for individuals. We have honoured all our coaches, all our ex-athletes including Jaspal. It was I who got him into the programme, it is I who has supported him throughout. It’s for reasons best known to him and the athlete concerned, they are unable to work together, well, this is not China we live in. I cannot dictate what they will do. They have to be willing to work with each other,” he added.
When asked about a certain troubling incident involving Rana and Bhaker, he confirmed it and said the reason disciplinary action was not taken against the coach pre Olympics was ‘to keep the peace’.
“Manu and Jaspal weren’t getting along, Manu sent him a message. He copied that on a white shirt and paraded that on the range. It was called out… When you are in the build-up to the Olympic Games, as the head of the family you have to keep the peace,” he explained.
Singh also said he tried to make peace between the two before changing her coach.
“I got Manu’s family together with Jaspal but they did not get on. It’s not just Jaspal, the other side also was not willing to work with him because of various instances that they both cited. The girl said something, the parents said something, Jaspal in his defence said something. I tried twice, once during the World Cup and once after,” he said.
“The second best thing I could do is in whole of India, we have just one coach who can deal with both, 10m and 25m pistol and that is Ronak Pandit, because of his wife Heena Sidhu, who is the same kind of an athlete. He put in a brilliant effort, let me tell you. Don’t let this 186 reflect on his effort because you saw the fightback she gave in the other event,” Singh said. He was referring to the women’s 10m air pistol qualification where Bhaker suffered a weapons malfunction and still managed to finish her match and come close to the final.
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