CHENNAI: When the European tour was confirmed for the Olympic-bound shooters, the omission of prominent pistol coaches Samaresh Jung, Jaspal Rana and Ronak Pandit from the tour had caused some stir. A few days later, the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI), the governing body of the sport in the country, has said that Jung and Pandit are expected to join the team soon.
The Olympic-bound shooters are currently in Zagreb (Croatia) for a exposure-cum-competition tour. Their quarantine is expected to get over soon and upon clearing Covid tests, they are expected to resume training before departing for Osijek to compete in the European Championships (May 20 to June 6). After the event, they will be taking part in the ISSF World Cup (June 22 to July 3) before flying directly to Tokyo for the Olympics.
"Yes, these coaches will be joining the team soon. We are working on getting their visas. They are expected to leave later this week, or the next week," Rajiv Bhatia, NRAI secretary, told this daily. It is understood that high performance manager Ronak's visas process is on and is expected to fly next week.
Foreign coach Pavel Smirnov had also missed the initial flight to Zagreb along with the rest of the contingent and he's set to join the team soon. "Pavel's visa application process had been delayed. Now, he's got the visa," Bhatia said. Jung, the high performance pistol coach, had said that he preferred to not leave his family because of the rising Covid cases in Delhi. Now, with some slight improvement in Delhi, he's had a change of heart.
"I'm due to apply for visas on the 20th. I'll be going next month. The federation asked me and I told them I'll be available. Now, there's slight improvement when you look at the official numbers," Jung said.
"The situation in Delhi was really disturbing. That was the reason I had opted out and said that I cannot go out for this long. Now, things are improving. I believe the beds, medicines are available. People are not running from pillar to post to get basic facilities. I know there's no place where it's 100 per cent safe. But I'm hopeful that things will gradually become better in the next few weeks," he added.