India had an excellent start to their Tokyo Olympics campaign by opening their account on the very first day with a Silver in weightlifting, thanks to the heroics of Mirabai Chanu.
However, the highs of that Saturday have not been replicated with Indian medal favourites stumbling on the biggest stage. The 15-member shooting contingent was expected to collect a rich haul of medals but so far, none but one Saurabh Chaudhary have managed to even qualify for a final.
Manu Bhaker, India’s big medal hope failed to qualify for the final of the 10m air pistol event after a pistol malfunction while Saurabh qualified for the 10m Air Pistol men's final after winning the qualification round, but unfortunately finished in seventh position.
However, Tuesday was expected to see a change in fortunes as the two 19-year-old shooters have had immense success together in the mixed team event over the last few years. They have won 5 World Cup golds and were the gold medal favourites and even though they started strong, finishing in the top spot after the first qualification round, they were the second team to get eliminated in the next round.
Following the disappointing outing, National Rifle Association of India(NRAI) chief Raninder Singh told the media the federation will be making big changes to the set-up.
“Yes definitely the performances have not been on expected lines and I have spoken of an overhaul of coaching and support staff as I feel something is lacking in getting our shooters prepared for these big occasions, because clearly the talent is there and we have seen it here as well.
Having said that we still have starts left and the team is fighting so let’s continue to back the team and I am sure we’ll get results. Post-mortems can wait till after the Games,” he said.
Manu Parted Ways With Coach Before Croatia Camp
The Indian shooting team's coaching staff saw a switch before the Olympics after Manu Bhaker chose to part ways with her long-time coach Jaspal Rana.
NRAI chief Raninder Singh tried to get the two parties together and have them work together again but his two efforts proved unsuccessful. Manu has instead been working with Indian pistol coach Raunak Pandit at the Olympics.
Elaborating on the episode, he said, “I think in Delhi, there was a lot of internal factionalism among the pistol coaches. That was addressed in an 8-page letter by me. It’s for reasons best known to him and the athletes concerned, they are unable to work together. Both of them didn’t get on. The other side was also not willing to work with him. I tried twice, this was once during the World Cup and once after.”
While Saurabh Chaudhary's Tokyo campaign is now over Manu Bhaker will be competing in the 25m air pistol event later this week.
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