CHENNAI: Joydeep Karmakar has a rare insight about the Olympic Games. After all, it was at the grand stage where he had captured the attention of many with a gutsy show during the 2012 Games. He might have missed the medal by the narrowest of margins (fourth) but the manner in which he had made a comeback after initial struggles in the men's 50m rifle prone event had earned him the respect from many quarters.
Now, after several years in the background, Joydeep is back in focus, albeit as chief coach of the national 50m rifle team. He is one of the new faces the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) has brought in to lift the shooters after a forgetful Tokyo Olympics. Delighted to be handed this responsibility, Joydeep, who terms this part of his journey as 'Joydeep Karmakar 2.0', is keen to unlock the talent in store.
"I know a few of them (squad members). It is also good that we see a lot of fresh faces this time. I don't know them very much. They have just emerged recently. My point is, that I want to listen to them first, know their issues and not tell them what to do but find out their thought process. So we can have that ease to work along. My job is not to give summons but to actually facilitate the shooters. I'm here to serve them, I'm here to make them heroes," the 42-year-old says.
Coaching is not something new for him. Having set up an academy in his hometown Kolkata in late 2015, he has been ably guiding youngsters from the region for several years. A lifelong student, Joydeep is keen to bolster his coaching mind. "I'm a learner. I think that I will still learn as a coach, I never close the door to learning. I'll be very happy to learn from the shooters. I want to be a better coach every day," he maintains.
Shooters have set high standards in recent years and after the disappointments in Tokyo, Joydeep and the rest of the coaching staff will be expected to take help them crack the Olympic code. "It is very challenging of course. Within four weeks or so, you have the first World Cup and then there's just around four months to prepare for Asian Games and then there's the World Championships, which will have Olympic quotas on offer," he notes.
Having reached Delhi on Sunday, Joydeep is expected to begin his new task on Tuesday. The senior shooting team will be part of the national camp (May 1-18) ahead of the World Cup in Baku (May 27-June 7).
"I won't be talking big about everything which is going to happen. I will be skeptical. The efforts have to be 100 per cent from everybody... this is teamwork. If I'm given the role of chief coach, that doesn't mean I'll run the show. Everybody has to contribute, the shooters, the coaches, the parents also. I want to have that belief in the system," he says.
Apart from Joydeep, almost all the coaches, who were part of the team previously, are expected to be back. Suma Shirur is expected to be the 10m rifle chief coach. Samaresh Jung and Ronak Pandit will be guiding the pistol shooters. Notably, Jaspal Rana is not part of the coaching staff.
Among foreign coaches, Lauryn Mark, Russell Mark (double trap) and Juan Giha (skeet) are expected to work with the shotgun shooters. In the rifle section, Thomas Farnik's name has been proposed by NRAI but it is learnt that he is yet to be officially appointed. The federation is undecided on a foreign pistol coach for now. Vikram Chopra and Shreyan Kapoor are expected to take over as trap and skeet coaches, respectively.