According to National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) sources, the ace rifleman would have to bear the travel and lodging expenses of two of his close technical aides — Dr. Amit Bhattacharya (mental trainer) and Dr. Uwe Riesterer (coach and planner) — as the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) has not included them as the part of the shooting contingent.
“The NRAI sent a list of nine technical officials to accompany the 11-member shooting squad that included Dr. Bhattacharya and Dr. Riestrer. But the IOA informed us that only five slots can be given for technical officials,” the source said. “So, we had no option but to prune the list of officials,” the source added.
After it became clear that Dr. Bhattacharya and Dr. Riesterer would not be able to accompany Bindra, who is currently training in Germany, his father took up the matter with the ministry and IOA and managed to convince them how necessary it was for the shooter to have the support staff with him during the crucial event starting later this month.
“Though IOA finally agreed to issue accreditation to two of Bindra’s support staff, the entire expenses has to be borne by the shooter and his family,” revealed the NRAI source.
Considered one of the best in 10m air rifle, Bindra would be India’s biggest hope in this event along with Gagan Narang. In 2008 too, Bindra bore the expenses to take Dr. Bhattacharya and his then coach Gabriele Buhlmann to Beijing.
“Perhaps no shooter in the country is as serious about his own performance as Bindra is,” said the source. “A few other shooters had also recommended the names of some of their favourite coaches to accompany the team. But once denied, these shooters just kept quiet,” he added.
There was so much lobbying among coaches to grab a spot in the five-member technical team that the NRAI finally decided to send four foreign coaches along with chief coach Sunny Thomas. The four foreign coaches who would travel to London are — Marcello Dradi, Pavel Smirnov, Stanislav Lapidus and Anatoli Poddubny.
According to coach Thomas, Bindra would be the first among the Indian shooters to check into the Games Village in London. “The other shooters are scheduled arrive at the Village on July 21... But Bindra would be there a couple of days early,” the Indian chief coach informed.
Meanwhile, trap shooter Manavjit Singh Sandhu, who would participate in his third Olympic in London, said Bindra’s gold medal-winning feat in Beijing would be the rallying point for Indian shooters in their quest to produce a better performance in the upcoming London Games.
A former world trap champion, Sandhu hopes that India will win more than one medal in shooting events.
“The shooting team has a mix of youngsters and experienced people. Most of us are in top form and we are well prepared. I can say that this is the best Indian shooting team in Olympics and so definitely we will perform better than we did in Beijing... I am confident... ” he said.
“I can’t say we will win two gold medals... But Abhinav won a gold in Beijing and of course that will be our rallying point. I am sure this time it will be better than Beijing,” he added.