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All Indian shooters can win at the Tokyo Olympics: coach Pavel Smirnov

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Image source: GETTY IMAGES

Photo file of Indian star shooter Manu Bhaker.

It is not about one, two or three, but all his shooters are able to win a medal, including a gold, at the Tokyo Olympics, said Pavel Smirnov, the longtime foreign coach of the Indian pistol team.

Against the background of their unprecedented success in recent years, the Indians will enter the upcoming Olympics with high expectations, especially the incredibly talented group of young shooters with pistols such as Saurab Chowdhury and Manu Baker.

The duo Abhishek Verma and Yashasvini Singh Desval should not be left behind, as the experienced Rahi Sarnobat adds to the strength of the team.

“Each of them can finish on the podium, and over the years I have seen a bit of Indian shooting. In their day, they can win medals at the highest level. Even gold,” Smirnov told PTI in Zagreb.

A lauded Indian team shot a gap at the 2016 Rio Games, a shocking result that necessitated radical changes to India’s shooting setting on the recommendation of a review committee led by Olympic champion Abhinav Bindra.

Smirnov, who trained Vijay Kumar to a 25-meter silver medal in rapid pistol shooting at the 2012 London Olympics and was later appointed foreign coach of the national pistol team, saw that Jitu Rai’s favorites failed to presented in Rio five years ago. He says it’s time to look ahead to the upcoming edition of the games.

“I really hope with this team. They deserve to do well, because everyone has made sacrifices, some at a very young age, have shown maturity and worked very hard over the last four years. There is no reason not to have very good games,” said Smirnov.

The disappointment of Rio 2016 is no longer shaking. “There is no point in dwelling on the past. It is not under our control. What we control is what we can do in the future and we think so at the moment.”

Unlike previous games, the number of coaching staff has been reduced for the upcoming Olympics due to the pandemic.

Together with foreign rifle coach Oleg Mihailov, however, Smirnov will be with the team throughout the Games, and the rest will be rotated according to the rule for a maximum of 30 percent of the coaching staff of the International Olympic Games Committee.

“The rules are the rules. Everyone has to follow them. The federation will apply them accordingly and in the best interest of the team, I’m sure,” said Smirnov, who was in the army before joining the Indian team.

Smirnov was unable to accompany the national firing squad to Zagreb on May 11th due to delays in visa processing. However, this was settled and he is again training his wards in the Croatian capital.

“Well, I’m here now and I’m happy to be back with the team. I had a quiet quarantine, but I definitely feel good to be back in the range, in the wilds. Things are very good and we are very well taken care of.”

The coach has been with the Indian team since 2013 and asked about his future plans (continued), saying he is currently focused only on the Olympics. “Now this is thought too far ahead. At the moment I only think about the Olympics,” he signed.

The Tokyo Olympics are scheduled to take place from July 23rd to August 8th, and the Indian shooting team will be represented by a record 15 members there.

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