It isn’t approximately one, two or three but all his shooters are capable of winning a medal, including gold, at the Tokyo Olympics, reckons Pavel Smirnov, the long standing foreign coach of the Indian pistol team. On the back of their unprecedented success in recent times, the Indians will enter the upcoming Olympics with heightened expectations, particularly the incredibly talented bunch of young pistol shooters such as Saurabh Chaudhary and Manu Bhaker. Not to be left at the back of is the duo of Abhishek Verma and Yashaswini Singh Deswal, with the seasoned Rahi Sarnobat adding to the team’s strength.
“Each one of them can finish on the podium, and I have seen a bit of Indian shooting over time. On their day they are able to win medals at the highest level. Even gold,” Smirnov told PTI from Zagreb.
A vaunted Indian team fired a blank at the 2016 Rio Games, a shocking result that forced radical changes in the Indian shooting setup on the recommendation of a review committee led by Olympic champion Abhinav Bindra.
Smirnov, who coached Vijay Kumar to a 25m rapid fire pistol silver medal at the 2012 London Olympics, following which he was once appointed as the national pistol team’s foreign coach, saw the likes of fancied Jitu Rai failing to deliver in Rio five years ago.
He says it is time to look ahead to the upcoming edition of the Games.
“I am very hopeful with this team. They deserve to do polite because they have got all made sacrifices, some at a very young age, shown maturity and worked very tough during the last four years. There is not any reason for us not to have a very good Games,” Smirnov said.
The disappointment of Rio 2016 doesn’t rankle anymore.
“There is not any benefit in dwelling on the past. That’s not in our keep an eye on. What is in our keep an eye on is what we will be able to do someday and we are thinking like that at the present time.”
Unlike in the preceding Games, the number of coaching staff has been reduced for the upcoming Olympics as a result of the pandemic.
Along side the rifle foreign coach Oleg Mikhailov, Smirnov will on the other hand be with the team all over the Games with the others being rotated as per the maximum 30 per cent coaching staff rule of the International Olympic Committee for the Games.
“Rules are rules. Everyone needs to follow. The federation will execute them accordingly and in the most productive interests of the team I am certain,” Smirnov, who was once with the Army prior to joining the Indian team, said.
Smirnov could not accompany the national shooting squad to Zagreb on May 11 because of delay in visa processing.
On the other hand, that had been sorted and he’s now back to training his wards in the Croatian capital.
“Mannered I am here now and enjoying being back with the team. Had a calm quarantine but definitely feels nice to be back in the range, in the thick of things. Things are very good and we are being taken care of very polite.”
The coach has been with the Indian team since 2013 and asked approximately his future plans (continuation), he said he’s currently focussed only on the Olympics.
“Now that is thinking too far ahead. These days, I am only thinking approximately the Olympics,” he signed off.
The Tokyo Olympics are slated to be held from July 23 to August 8 and the Indian shooting team will be a represented by a record 15 members there.
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