Bindra-led review committee questions NRAI role in Rio flop show

Bindra-led review committee questions NRAI role in Rio flop show

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Abhinav Bindra-led National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) review committee has come down heavily on the running of the sport in a damning 36-page report on the Rio Olympics flop show that was equally scathing on the shooters, coaches and the national federation.

None of the 12-member squad managed to get a medal in Rio where 2008 Beijing gold medallist Bindra’s fourth-place finish in the 10m air rifle event was the best show.

The NRAI-appointed four-member committee, which had former Asian Games gold medallist Manisha Malhotra as convener, stated that the trickle of medals since the Athens Games in 2004, where India won its first-ever shooting medal, had effectively made all those involved in the sport in the country complacent.

“Everyone took it for granted that there would be progress automatically, and forgot to ensure a systematic healthy process,” the report said.

“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,” it further stated.

India has won four medals so far in shooting at the Olympics, with Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore opening the account at Athens with a silver medal in men’s double trap.

Bindra won the country’s first individual Olympic gold medal at the 2008 Games in Beijing in the men’s 10m air rifle. Gagan Narang won a bronze in the men’s 10m air rifle and Vijay Kumar a silver in the men’s 25m rapid fire pistol at the London Olympics in 2012.

“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 report stated.

“The 'chaltahai' attitude that shadows Indian sport has to be stopped. The NRAI has to shed excess flab and needs to become a lean and mean fighting machine to ensure the implementation of a system that will churn out Champions. At present the system is ad-hoc. There is no systemic framework in place,” it further stated.

The shooters had been hailed as medal hopefuls in the build up to Rio.

“Coach Stanislas Lapidus was very clear that his training schedule was not followed by Narang, which was informed many times to the NRAI. However, no action was taken. 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 NRAI must be in constant touch with the expert to have a clear picture of their training phase.

“It was a clear case of an athlete not being ready to take the load of three events. The lack of monitoring and coordination between all the stakeholders clearly caused the NRAI to take an ill-informed decision.

“Ayonika Paul, who misled the sports ministry to garner more funds, by keeping them in dark, the committee stated that it is a typical case of "ill-equipped" when given the authority to choose own coach.

"There were two coaches working with her, Thomas Farnik and Suma Shirur...The Committee feels that Paul's approach to the Olympics shows the flip side of allowing athletes, especially young ones, the power to chalk their own course. They are clearly not equipped or mentally ready to shoulder the responsibility.“The projection of Thomas Farnik as the coach and Suma Shirur only as a mentor, was purely for financial gains. The records and documents presented to the committee proved that Suma was the full time coach. There has to be absolute honesty of effort while preparing for the Olympics,” the report stated.

Meanwhile, the NRAI has accepted the review panel’s review in toto.

“We accepted the report in toto minus one suggestion that India should not host any international competition. We get the funds from the governmnt to conduct national and international events,” NRAI president Raninder Singh told reporters.

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