Online Classes :- Current Affairs Part-3

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NRAI needs to insulate youngsters from distractions and nurture them

Nine medals, including four golds, to top the medals tally at the ISSF World Cup is clearly a first for Indian shooting. With just over a fortnight to go for the Commonwealth Games, this performance has heightened expectations while also drawing attention to the next generation of shooters ready to step up and fill the void left after the retirement of the likes of Abhinav Bindra.

However, we need to place the World Cup performance in perspective and not get ahead of ourselves. In the absence of quota places, some shooters of pedigree had decided to give the season’s first World Cup a miss. And, with many of them relatively unknown, the Indian contingent wasn’t carrying the burden of expectations in Mexico. “Yes, you are right. That makes a difference in shooting. Your mind is uncluttered and you can shoot with nothing really weighing in. Having said that, they’ve done exceedingly well. It was a World Cup and the youngsters have shot scores which are in the absolute top bracket and of which they can be proud of,” says Bindra, trying to put the performance in perspective.

“It demonstrates two things to start with. First, the NRAI (National Rifle Association of India) needs to be complemented for investing heavily in the juniors programme.

Many of the shooters who did well in Mexico are products of this initiative. Second, the responsibility of the NRAI has now grown manifold because each of these young men and women now need to be insulated from the media and other external distractions leading to the high profile CWG,” states India’s only individual Olympic gold medal winner.

With legends like Sachin Tendulkar tweeting about the achievements of Manu Bhaker, Akhil Sheoran, Shahzar Rizvi and Mehuli Ghosh, some of whom are teenagers, the media interest can be relentless and daunting. Each of them are good stories in themselves.

While Sheoran had to shoot without proper equipment for a while and is grateful to Gagan Narang for helping him out with his own rifle, Ghosh had to overcome the trauma of inadvertently hitting a person at 14. Manu, the youngest of the lot, is all of a sudden being touted as the next big thing leading into the Tokyo games of 2020. “These things can be daunting. You’ve to protect them. See how young they are. Manu is 16. Mehuli is 17. Fame and media interest can be really scary at times. It is a heady feeling to be talked about and mentioned in the mainstream media. From nowhere you are all of a sudden a star. People want to click pictures with you, speak to you, understand your story. While it’s all very good this isn’t the right time for any of it. They’ve the world in front of them,” suggests Bindra.

From here on, the role of the coaches are of serious importance. While most coaches at the turn of the century were more in the nature of managers, what makes the NRAI’s programme tick is the presence of people who have had successful international careers. Be it Jaspal Rana or Dipali Deshpande or Suma Shirur, currently employed by the NRAI as coaches and mentors, they know what it takes to win medals at the big stage. “This is one of the most important factors,” Bindra agrees. “To have shooters of pedigree groom the next generation is one of the best things the NRAI has done,” he concludes.

With no medal to show for in Rio, the stock of Indian shooting had nosedived. All of a sudden, India’s most promising Olympic sport looked a sad tale of mismanagement and wasted opportunity. So much so an alarmed NRAI even commissioned a report to take stock of what went wrong. Correctives, it seem, are finally in place.

How many medals will India win at the CWG or, for that matter, at the Asian Games? More importantly, how many of these shooters will go on to win quota places for Tokyo 2020 in the world championships later this year?

While we debate each of these questions, the early signs are good. At the same time the past experience tells us to be cautious and nurture these men and women with meticulous care and not waste another major opportunity.

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