The National Rifle Association of India has decided that the over-worked shooting contingent will skip next week’s World Cup in the United States, after a below-par performance at the Changwon World Cup earlier this month.
“They needed a proper break,” NRAI President Raninder Singh told the Indian Express. “We sent the team to Changwon so that they could get a feel of the range, since it will also host the World Championship [in September]. That is a very important tournament since it’ll be the first Olympic qualifying event. Between now and then, we have to plan smartly so that the shooters remain fresh. As far as the performance in Changwon goes, I am not overtly concerned. The medals may not have come, but the scores were really good.”
India finished the Changwon World Cup with only one medal – a silver. Shahzar Rizvi, who was incidentally not in the squad for Gold Coast, followed his gold at the Mexico World Cup with a silver.
After the elation of their performance at the Commonwealth Games, this was definitely a reality check for the shooters as none of the CWG medallists could replicate their efforts, pitted against a high quality field, compared to Guadalajara’s World Cup and the Gold Coast.
Raninder Singh chose to look at the bright side: “The scores were pretty high and we had five finalists. I think that’s a credible performance given that its been a very busy start to the season.”
The Indian team’s High Performance Director, Ronak Pandit, had the same insight about the likes of Jitu Rai: “He hasn’t taken a break. He is either competing or training. He needs to take his mind off shooting, spend some time with his family and come back refreshed.”
Rai’s situation, where the Army marksman hasn’t taken a break since 2014, isn’t ideal and Pandit says the former has the highest workload of any in the contingent. Burn-out is also a problem among the other shooters like Heena Sidhu, who shot a 574 in Changwon to finish 37th.
A change in qualification format in the 10-metre rifle and pistol events hasn’t helped either, with the number of shots going up from 40 to 60. For shooters, the qualification period has gotten longer but the time for recovery hasn’t proportionately increased, leading to fatigue.