Harpal Singh Bedi
New Delhi: Visibly rattled by the dismal showing of the much-hyped shooters NRAI chief startled every one when he said “We are no longer going to be held to ransom. The period of ransom is over”
Well-known for his mild demeanor, National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) chief Raninder Singh obviously could not hold himself back after Manu Bhaker and Saurabh Chaudhury lost the 10m air pistol mixed team event and surprised the media persons by observing “At the end of the day, the only thing I can say is I cannot excuse non-performance, We are going to see an overhaul of the Indian coaching staff for sure. We are no longer going to be held to ransom. The period of ransom is over”
“Everybody will be evaluated. You think it is only the athlete who will be evaluated? Even I will be evaluated as the president of the NRAI. No one is indispensable,” He told a surprised group of media persons at the Asaka Shooting Range in Tokyo on Tuesday.
Asked who was holding the NRAI to ransom or what he meant by it, he replied let the “Olympics get over.”
He talked about Manu Bhakar falling out with coach Jaspal Rana in the camp .”There was one person who was the negative factor in the whole thing. I am referring to Jaspal Rana. There was some wrangling among coaches before Croatia, there was some during the World Cup in New Delhi and before that a lot of internal wrangling in the pistol squad among coaches,
He however hastened to add that 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 family said something, Jaspal in his defence said something. I tried twice — once during the World Cup and once after that,”
He claimed that things got so bad between the coaching mentor and protégé that when she sent him a message, Rana copied that on a white T-shirt and paraded that on the range.
NRAI chief was candid in saying that though this incident may have had an effect on Manu, the performance of the Indian shooting contingent at Tokyo cannot be pinned on that.
Raninder was not breathing fire only, he was also compassionate towards younger shooters “Remember most of them are 19 or 20 somethings. These are not adults even yet. Some of them have fallen prey to the infamous Olympic pressure. There’s nothing else I can say. If you see today’s performance, for example, there was an Olympic record score in qualification.
“This is not a joke. Then to go 10 minutes later and one of them shoots rather poorly, it’s very inexplainable in a way,” said Raninder, who went on to add: “Manu felt it today. But you cannot string her up on a lamppost, yaar.”
“We have done whatever that was humanly possible in the preparation for these Tokyo Games. We have followed to the T the recommendations of that committee. Those were very sound and deep analysis after Rio,” he said
” You think it is only the athlete who will be evaluated? Even I will be evaluated as the president of the NRAI. No one is indispensable,” he said admitting that he was under pressure as NRAI chief.
Before the 10m air rifle mixed team event on Tuesday afternoon (Japan Standard Time) only Saurabh Chaudhury had made it to the final of an event. He too crashed out with a seventh-place finish on the second day of the event, after qualifying on top of the standings.
Soon after Raninder’s interaction with the journalists three other pairs, Abhishek Verma-Yashaswini Singh Deswal (mixed pistol), Divyansh Panwar-Elavenil (mixed rifle), and Anjum Moudgil-Deepak Kumar (mixed rifle) also crashed out without even making it to the second round of qualification.
Later in the day, observing that there were still some events left for Indian shooters to compete in, he stated in a press release that “post-mortems could wait until after the Games.”
Indian shooters are still in the fray in the 25m pistol events and the 50m 3P rifle events. But the 10m events were widely thought of as India’s best bets for medals at the deferred Tokyo Games.