Unsparing on the under-performing shooters but equally scathing on coaches and the national federation, the Abhinav Bindra-led NRAI review committee hardly minced words as it chastised the Rio Olympics flop show while recommending a systematic overhaul.
The four-member committee, which had former Asian Games gold-medallist tennis player Manisha Malhotra as convener, has come out with a damning 36-page report reviewing the performance.
The committee concluded that the consistent trickle of shooting medals since the 2004 Athens Games ended up making everyone involved in the sport complacent.
“Everyone took it for granted that there would be progress automatically, and forgot to ensure a systematic healthy process,” the report stated.
“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 added. The committee was formed after none of the 12 Olympic-qualified Indian shooters managed to get a medal in Rio with Bindra’s fourth-place finish in 10m Air Rifle event being the best show.
“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 ‘chalta hai’ 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 adhoc. There is no systemic framework in place,” the committee pointed out.
The review report went on to dwell on individual performances, pointing out the laxities that ended up derailing a campaign that was built as India’s best medal hope in Rio.
From seniors such as Gagan Narang and Heena Sidhu to the rising Ayonika Paul, none of the shooters could escape criticism.
The committee called on Sidhu, who has been criticised for making husband Ronak Pandit her personal coach, to take “some tough calls” on her events.
“Maybe she should use the training year (2017) to judge whether the 25m sports pistol actually complements her favourite 10m air pistol. Clearly, there has been complication of matters and she essentially needs to get back to the simple aspects of shooting. There was no collaboration with the national coach Pavel Smirnov, which did not help the situation,” the committee stated.
About Paul, who was found to have misled the Sports Ministry on who exactly was coaching her to garner more funds, the panel felt the rifle shooter was a classic case of a promising youngster being “ill-equipped” to chart her own path.
“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 in its assessment.
Under-fire NRAI accepts Review Panel report in toto
Criticised for lack of planning, the National Rifle Association of India on Wednesday decided to accept the recommendations of Abhinav Bindra-led review committee, which looked into Indian shooters’ flop show in Rio Olympics, in “toto” and said it will form a separate panel to ensure the implementation of the suggestions.
NRAI president Raninder Singh said that the report did not blame anybody but gave recommendations to correct the faults which existed in the running of the sport.
Raninder, however, said the federation has reservation on one recommendation, which says the country should not hold any international competitions.
“We accepted the report in toto minus one suggestion that India should not host any international competition. We get funds from the government to conduct national and international events,” Raninder told reporters here on Wednesday.
“Some suggestions are very good and some are very scathing criticism of NRAI which is welcome. In a day or two we will announce a committee which will ensure the implementation of the suggestions,” he added.
Besides various recommendations, the review committee also suggested that the NRAI should invest on creating a strong domestic calendar rather than spending money on “needless” international competitions, a view which did not go down well with the national federation.
Raninder said that as suggested by the review panel, the NRAI will soon hire a High Performance Manager, who will monitor the programme of all the shooters.
“There is a systematic problem and we will take up it with Sports Authority of India. When you do funding directly to an athlete it is very difficult for a federation to monitor,” he said. “One of the main things which came out in the report is that the NRAI is woefully inadequate in monitoring the athletes. So we will be very shortly hiring a one or may be even three High Performance Managers. We need to segregate the administrative part from the technical aspect as suggested by the report,” Raninder said.
Taking the blame for Indian shooters poor show in Rio squarely on himself, Raninder said from now on their main emphasis will be on conducting quality national camps.
“The review committee, in its report, said that the conduct of national camps should be of world-class standard. And we agree that camps should not only be quantitative but qualitative,” he said.
“NRAI is serious about the issue that a shooter has to have 85 per cent attendance in national camps. I don’t care how it is essential if you want to represent India.”Beijing Olympics gold medallist Bindra, who headed the review panel, stressed on the need for quality national camps and said the national body needs to engage professionals to take the sport forward in the right direction.