The Abhinav Bindra-led National Rifle Association of India committee lambasted India's dismal outing at Rio Olympics 2016, which saw the nation finish with an empty haul in shooting for the first time in four summer games. The four-member committee, which was selected after the Rio Olympic Games, had former tennis star Manisha Malhotra as convener, and came up with a 36-page review about India's display.
The report came down hardly on India's windfall since Athens 2004, and said that the athletes had taken Indian shooting's success in the recent past for granted. It pinned India's success down to "luck" and "over achieving" at events. "Everyone took it for granted that there would be progress automatically, and forgot to ensure a systematic healthy process. To sum up the deliberations of the committee it can be said with no reservations that Indian Shooting 'over achieved' at the Rio Olympic Games. The formula for success was wrong and Indian Shooting had ridden its luck over the last few years, no doubt helped by some extremely talented shooters," the report said.
Apart from India's 12-member shooting team for Rio, the lackadaisical attitude in the sport, along with the present systems in place also came under the scanner from the committee. "The committee was unanimous in its view that Indian shooting needs to change, change its attitude, its policies and practices, so that the booming talent gets a fair chance to flourish in a healthy atmosphere, and win all the medals that it can in the World Championships and the Olympics. The 'chalta hai' attitude that shadows Indian sport has to be stopped", the report added.
The committee also singled out some of the criticism against established members, pointing at Heena Sidhu's decision to train with husband Ronak Pandit over national team coach Pavel Smirnov. "Maybe she should use the training year (2017) to judge whether the 25m sports pistol actually complements her favourite 10m air pistol. Clearly, there has been complication of matters and she essentially needs to get back to the simple aspects of shooting. There was no collaboration with the national coach Smirnov, which did not help the situation," the committee said.
As for Jitu Rai, who was tipped as a certainty to end up on the podium but fell short of expectations, the committee pointed out the lack of planning and preparation leading up to the games as the reasons. "The lack of expertise 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 correct preparation for the Olympics," it said.
London 2012 medal winner and senior player Gagan Narang was also not spared by the committee, who accused the 33-year-old of of flouting the training schedule charted out by coach Stanislas Lapidus, despite going into the Games carrying an injury, "Coach Stanislas Lapidus was very clear that his training schedule was not followed by Narang, which was informed many times to the NRAI. 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 lack of monitoring and coordination between all the stakeholders clearly caused the NRAI to take an ill-informed decision," the committee stated.
Bindra was spared of some of the scathing criticism. On the 2008 Olympic gold medal winner's fourth place finish the committee noted, "It was good closure of a brilliant career, even though it lacked the fairytale finish."
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