Sunday , July 25 2021

Efforts still on for pistol coach Pavel Smirnov as Indian shooters leave Zagreb for Tokyo

Indian shooters leave Zagreb for Tokyo

Indian shooters leave Zagreb for Tokyo

Hoping to join the Indian shooting contingent in Tokyo at a later date, foreign pistol coach Pavel Smirnov stayed back in Zagreb as the others on Friday headed for the Olympics via Amsterdam.

The Olympic-bound team left Zagreb after completing an 80-long competition-cum-training stint in the Balkan nation. All the members of the Indian contingent tested negative for COVID-19 in the tests conducted over the last two days.

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In Amsterdam, the 13-member pistol and rifle team will be joined by the two skeet shooters — Mairaj Ahmad Khan and Angad Vir Singh — who were training in Italy.

Before the Indian contingent’s departure, the Croatian and Zagreb shooting federation felicitated the visitors during a farewell organised by the gracious hosts.

“Looking at the arrangement made by them one can say that it was as good as a dinner party, the only thing was that it was held in the evening,” a member of the contingent told PTI.

The Indian contingent will have a layover in Amsterdam before taking the flight to Tokyo, while three members — coaches Jaspal Rana, Ved Prakash and Manoj Kumar — will be leaving from Delhi.

Two other members will return to India on July 17.

“Pavel is staying back as efforts are being made for him to be with the team in Tokyo. So he is not leaving with the team,” he said.

The National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) has been trying to get approval for an additional coach to join the seven support staff permitted in Tokyo, at the expense of office-bearers.

“The biggest problems is the availability of flights on the day he is supposed to leave. Though Jaspal is coming back to India today, the federation is also trying to send him to Tokyo,” an NRAI source said.

On Pavel, nothing has been finalised yet. “The Indian shooting team has departed from their Zagreb base & reached Amsterdam. They will leave later tonight for @Tokyo2020,” the Sports Authority of India’s (SAI) media wing tweeted.

The Indian contingent thanked the Croatian federation for being a gracious host during their stay there. “Thank you #Croatia ! At the farewell organised by our gracious hosts, the #Zagreb Shooting Federation. Croatian T-shirts presented to the whole squad including one for our President @RaninderSingh,” the NRAI wrote on its Twitter handle.

On the final day of their training on Thursday, the Indian shooters took it a bit easy but made sure their equipments are in place before leaving for sport’s biggest showpiece.

The Olympics are scheduled to be held in the Japanese capital from July 23 to August 8, with the shooting events starting a day after the opening ceremony and covering the first 10 days of the extravaganza, which will be held without spectators owing to the pandemic.

The Indian contingent had shifted base to Zagreb as it was considered safer for them to train there at a time when the country reeled under a devastating second wave of the pandemic.

During their stay in Croatia, the Indian shooters took part in the European Championships in Osijek, from May 29 to June 6, before participating in the last World Cup before the Olympics, from June 22 to July 3, at the same venue.

India will be represented by a record 15 shooters at the Tokyo Games. The Indian team has eight rifle, five pistol and two skeet shooters, besides coaches and support staff members. 

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