Abhinav Bindra Targets All Shooters in Rio Report, Spares Himself

Abhinav Bindra finished fourth in his category, missing a medal in his farewell Games.

5 min read
Abhinav Bindra finished fourth at the Rio Olympics, missing a medal in his final Games.(Photo: AP)

The Abhinav Bindra led NRAI review committee submitted their 36-page report of the Indian shooters’ Rio Olympics’ flop show, and much like the man himself - the docket spared no one.

Unsparing on the under-performing shooters but equally scathing on coaches and the national federation, the panel also recommended a complete systematic overhaul. The four-member committee concluded that the consistent trickle of shooting medals since the 2004 Athens Games had inadvertently made 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.


No Player Spared

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.

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. There was no collaboration with the national coach Pavel Smirnov, whichdid not help the situation.
NRAI Rio Review Panel’s Report
Abhinav Bindra Targets All  Shooters in Rio Report, Spares Himself

Ayonika Paul ‘Misled Sports Ministry’

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.
NRAI Rio Review Panel’s Report
India’s Gagan Narang poses with his bronze medal during the 10m air rifle men’s victory ceremony at the Royal Artillery Barracks during the London 2012 Olympic Games. (Photo: Reuters) 
India’s Gagan Narang poses with his bronze medal during the 10m air rifle men’s victory ceremony at the Royal Artillery Barracks during the London 2012 Olympic Games. (Photo: Reuters) 

Olympic Medallist Narang’s Fitness Questioned

The committee was, however, quite critical of Narang, who had won a bronze medal in the 2012 London Games, and said that the rifle marksman carried a heel injury into the Games and did not stick to the training plan for him.

"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. It was a clear case of an athlete not being ready to take the load of three events.
NRAI Rio Review Panel’s Report
File photo of Apurvi Chandela. (Photo: <a href="">Apurvi Chandela Facebook</a>)
File photo of Apurvi Chandela. (Photo: Apurvi Chandela Facebook)

Apurvi Chandela

Another shooter who was criticised strongly by the committee was Apurvi Chandela (rifle). "The Committee feels that the claims of coach Lapidus about the struggle to get funds for training are misleading. Apurvi's case was one of the first to be approved in the TOPS scheme. However, funds could not be released until Apurvi submitted a training plan and schedule," the report stated.

"The lack of experience and monitoring caused Apurvi to have an accidental injury during her cryotherapy session. It must be noted that all cutting edge scientific training must be under the guidance of suitable experts, which was obviously lacking. The committee also feels that lack of sleep or disturbances on the eve of competition should have been visualised and the athlete could have been protected, or better prepared."

File photo of Jitu Rai. (Photo: PTI)
File photo of Jitu Rai. (Photo: PTI)

Jitu Rai Not Guided Well

On the very promising Jitu Rai not living upto expectations, the committee said the pistol shooter did not get the right expertise and could not develop a "working relationship" with foreign coach Pavel Smirnov.

"The committee feels that the foreign coach Pavel Smirnov did not have the expertise in the precision events to help Jitu Rai win an Olympic medal. Rai's admission of his inability to find a working relationship with Smirnov further put the shooter in a precarious position of coming up with his own training plans.

The lack of expertise for the best shooter in India despite no dearth of support from the Army and the government further highlights the lack of proper planning. His extraordinary talent was taken for granted to deliver an Olympic medal. Any level of talent is irrelevant without correct preparation for the Olympics.
NRAI Rio Review Panel’s Report

Only Bindra Praised

Blaming Bindra's fourth-place finish on the luck factor, the committee noted that, "It was good closure of a brilliant career, even though it lacked the fairytale finish."

A classic example of resources, planning and expertise can be best utilised with sincerity, despite all the physical troubles that he had to counter on a regular basis. It also must be stated that the best planning, preparation cannot script the ideal result.
NRAI Rio Review Panel’s Report

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