Today News Online service
New Delhi, March 17
Even as New Delhi’s Tughlakabad shooting range gears up for the ISSF World Cup for all shooting disciplines, the fear is that Indian shooters could head to the Tokyo Olympics short of match sharpness due to a fresh spike in Covid-19 cases.
After the New Delhi World Cup, which starts on Friday, Indian shooters may not get enough competitions. The combined World Cup, scheduled to be held in Changwon in South Korea from April 16, has already been postponed due to Covid-19 restrictions. Besides, there is no guarantee that the Olympics Test event scheduled in Tokyo from April 25 would be held at all.
That leaves only the shotgun World Cup in Lonata (Italy, fFrom May 5) and combined World Cup in Baku in Azerbaijan (from 21 May) as the only two competitions for them to compete in before the Indian contingent heads for Tokyo.
The uncertainty regarding the competitions is starting to dawn on the shooters. Pistol ace Manu Bhaker, one of the top prospects, said she would make her plans after the World Cup.
“I have no idea (what will happen). Post-World Cup I will definitely sit down and chalk out a plan,” Bhaker said. “We will be shooting after a very long time, not just us but the entire shooting community. I hope that I will be able to deliver whatever I have learned through this lockdown period. Let’s hope for the best.”
Senior shooter Sanjeev Rajput said he was worried about ammunition. “My plan is to go out and test for ammo so that I have five batches ready for the Games. Don’t know when that will happen,” he said.
The fluid situation has forced the National Rifle Association of India’s (NRAI) hand. NRAI president Raninder Singh said the body would allow shooters to get their equipment fixed and they would be allowed to shoot in local competitions to be match-ready. The NRAI last year had decided to stop Indian shooters from training abroad in the run-up to the Games.
“We will be allowing them. That decision was prior to the Olympics last year. Now we have a bigger gap to the Olympics. They can shoot a few competitions as well,” Singh said on Wednesday. “These boys (skeet shooters) are supposed to go to Italy to get their stocks fixed. Now I got to know that Italy is going into a lockdown.”
Tokyo team after World Cup
Singh said the Indian team for the Tokyo Olympics would be announced shortly after completion of the New Delhi World Cup. “We have a prior selection policy but we have to see how everybody is performing after such a long lay-off. We just cannot take a big risk ahead of the Olympics. However, it (performance) is not an issue because everyone seems to be doing very well,” he said.
Surviving in the bio-bubble was hard: Manu Bhaker
New Delhi: The Indian shooting team had a hard time adapting to life in the bio-bubble. Now they say they have accepted it as norm.
Speaking about her experience, Manu Bhaker said the team had to follow strict regulations when the first national camp was held last year. “It was very difficult in the beginning but now we have all adapted to it. We were not allowed to go outside or leave our rooms,” Bhaker said. “We were not allowed to step out of the bus. We stayed alone in our rooms. We had to deal with too many regulations at one go. But now it is all OK.”
Sanjeev Rajput said that the first phase in the lockdown was perhaps the most difficult. “It was a difficult time for all of us. In June we started training again and by July I started to work on my physical fitness,” Rajput said.
“Thankfully the ministry and our federation organised a few national camps, which was a big thing for us. The work done is showing now and many of us have bettered the national records. I have improved a lot too and shot very nice scores,” he added. TNS