Manu and I have a plan in place: Ronak Pandit
(Sourced from PTI)
In less than three months of training at the range, Coach Ronak Pandit and Manu Bhaker have "put in place a plan," giving impetus to the pistol prodigy's hopes of a podium finish in the Olympics. Pandit has been guiding Bhaker since her split with Jaspal Rana under whom she blossomed into a world-class competitor after a spate of excellent results in top events.
They parted ways after the ISSF World Cup in New Delhi in March. Pandit trained Bhaker for about a month and a half during the Indian team's tour of Croatia, overseeing her final phase of preparations. "We have trained for about two and a half to three months and put in a plan for her," Pandit, a Commonwealth Games gold medalist, said.
One of three pistol shooting coaches with the Indian team, Pandit has full faith in Bhaker's abilities and says the huge expectations don't bother either the shooter or himself. "Manu is very level-headed and is used to such pressure and expectations," he said. "Ahead of the Olympics, she is calm and composed, fully focused on the task," he added.
Pandit said that it is "absolutely important" to ensure that the shooters are protected from any sort of distraction in the time between the qualifications and the finals. Armed with years of experience in coaching, Pandit is optimistic about the Indian shooters' prospects in Tokyo.
In Tokyo, Pandit will have his hands full as Bhaker will be shooting in three events - 10m individual and mixed team (with Saurabh Chaudhary), and 25m pistol - but he is up for it and also Bhaker, who is world number two in 10m air pistol. The Indian team didn't get enough time to practice on Wednesday. Their official practice training began today.
The 50m range was closed from Thursday so that all air shooters can practice full steam. Calling Bhaker an accomplished shooter, Pandit said they focused mainly on performing in pressure situations. Meanwhile, the air rifle shooters from various countries on Thursday practiced in the finals hall, including India's Divyansh Singh Panwar who will shoot on the second competition day on July 25.
The Olympics are scheduled to be held from July 23 to August 8, with the shooting events spread across the first 10 days of the extravaganza, which will be held without spectators owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.