All Indian shooters can win at Tokyo Olympics: Pavel Smirnov
(Sourced from PTI)
All Indian shooters are capable of winning a medal, including gold, at the Tokyo Olympics, reckons Pavel Smirnov, the longstanding foreign coach of the Indian pistol team. On the back of their unprecedented success in recent years, the Indians will enter the upcoming Olympics with heightened expectations, especially the incredibly talented bunch of young pistol shooters such as Saurabh Chaudhary and Manu Bhaker.
Not to be left behind is the duo of Abhishek Verma and Yashaswini Singh Deswal, with the seasoned Rahi Sarnobat adding to the team's strength. To recall, a vaunted Indian team fired a blank at the 2016 Rio Games, a shocking result that forced radical changes in the Indian shooting set-up on the recommendation of a review committee led by Olympic Champion Abhinav Bindra.
Smirnov, who coached Vijay Kumar to a 25m rapid fire pistol silver medal at the 2012 London Olympics, following which he was appointed as the national pistol team's foreign coach, saw the likes of fancied Jitu Rai failing to deliver in Rio five years ago. He says that it's time to look ahead to the upcoming edition of the Games.
"I am very hopeful with this team. They deserve to do well because they have all made sacrifices, some at a very young age, shown maturity, and worked very hard over the last four years. There is no reason for us not to have a very good Tokyo Games," Smirnov said. The disappointment of Rio Games doesn't rankle the coach anymore.
Unlike in the previous games, the number of the coaching staff has been reduced for the upcoming Olympics because of the pandemic. Along with rifle coach Oleg Mikhailov, Smirnov will however be with the team throughout the Games with the others being rotated as per the maximum 30 percent coaching staff rule of the International Olympic Committee for the Games.
Notably, Smirnov could not accompany the national shooting squad to Zagreb on May 11 due to a delay in visa processing. However, after the issue was sorted, he is now back to training his wards in the Croatian capital.
The coach has been with the Indian team since 2013. Regarding his future plans of continuing with the team, the coach said he is currently focused only on the Olympics. Amid heavy criticism, the Tokyo Olympics are slated to be held from July 23 to August 8 and the Indian shooting team will be represented by a record 15 members in Tokyo.