India pistol coach Smirnov grounded without visa

India’s pistol coach Pavel Smirnov will not accompany the 28-member national shooting squad to Croatia on Tuesday due to delay in visa process.

“He hasn’t got a visa for Croatia [yet] so can’t go with the team. But he will go next week when he gets the necessary travel documents,” a national level coach told IANS.

As many as 13 shooters in the squad will attend an Olympic camp in the European country.

Due to the pandemic, the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) has arranged a charter flight to Europe to minimise risk of contracting coronavirus.

In Smirnov’s absence, assistant coach Ved Prakash will oversee training of the Tokyo Olympic-bound pistol team.

Both Samresh Jung, the high performance national pistol coach, and Jaspal Rana, junior national pistol coach, had earlier expressed their inability to accompany the team due to family problems.

Rahi Sarnobat, the 2018 Asian Games champion in women’s 25 metre pistol, said she is mature enough to work without a coach during Zagreb camp.

“I have reached a stage where I don’t need a coach on a regular basis. But in case there is an issue in Zagreb, I would have a video conference with Jung who has been guiding me for the past two years,” she said.

All five rifle coaches including foreign expert Oleg Mikhailov are going with the team, confirmed a rifle coach.

The national team will also compete in the European Shooting Championships scheduled to be held in Osijek from May 21 and Zagreb World Cup in June.

Deepak Kumar, Divyansh Singh Panwar, Sanjeev Rajput, Aishwary Pratap Tomar, Apurvi Chandela, Anjum Moudgil, Elavenil Valarivan and Tejaswini Sawant have qualified for Olympics in rifle shooting events.

The pistol shooting team consists of Abhishek Verma, Saurabh Chaudhary, Manu Bhaker, Rahi Sarnobat and Yashaswini Singh.