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From One Teen Sensation to Another - Shooting Coach Rana Has Success Mantra for Manu Bhaker and Saurabh Chaudhary

Back in the early 1990s when India was still struggling to make a mark in the world of sport, a teenage boy from Uttarakhand had become an overnight shooting star. Jaspal Rana won gold in 25m center fire pistol event in the 1994 Asian Games at Hiroshima and gave the medal-starved country something to cheer about.

Madhav Agarwal | News18 Sports

Updated:October 24, 2018, 2:42 PM IST
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From One Teen Sensation to Another - Shooting Coach Rana Has Success Mantra for Manu Bhaker and Saurabh Chaudhary
Manu Bhaker. (Image: ISSF)
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Back in the early 1990s when India was still struggling to make a mark in the world of sport, a teenage boy from Uttarakhand had become an overnight shooting star. Jaspal Rana won gold in 25m center fire pistol event in the 1994 Asian Games at Hiroshima and gave the medal-starved country something to cheer about.

In him, India could have had a champion, but that never happened for many reasons. But now, a good 20 years later a lot has changed. We have a bunch of youngsters who are not only making a mark in the junior level but winning competitions with record scores in the senior category too. Manu Bhaker, Saurabh Chaudhary, Mehuli Ghosh, Anish Bhanwala are all household names and the man behind their meteoric rise has been none other than the current junior coach – Rana.

Recently after the Asian Games' success, these youngsters bagged a rich haul of medals at the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires too. Coach Rana, though happy, doesn’t want to get carried away. For him, these kids already belong in the senior category and need to keep winning against the world’s best.

“To win four medals at Youth Olympics, who wouldn't be happy with that. It's unprecedented effort by our shooters. We do not go by the policy that you got to improve in every competition. We have one clear aim in our mind and that is to get results in every tournament. If we don't prepare like that the results would not come,” Rana told News18 Sports after the team returned from Youth Olympics.

“All these shooters are better than the juniors, but they need to keep putting in the hard work for further success. That feeling to constantly win needs to come from within and that’s what will make them successful against world’s best.”

But having seen the downfall of so many budding shooters, Rana wants to be cautious with the new bunch. He has always been vocal about the need to protect and preserve talents like Bhaker and Choudhary and once again stressed the need to keep them away from distractions.

“I have seen some really talented shooters wasted to distractions like money and fame. It's not a very healthy sign. After every victory when everyone's happy for these kids, whereas I get worried for their future. When you see a player go down, it's not a great feeling personally. And in fact this is with the 90-95% of the shooters. Only 3-4 out of a big bunch have it in them to withstand all this.”

“If you see, these kids are getting lakhs and crores from the state governments. But this money can only get you luxury and not medals.”

One would feel that all junior shooters are in safe hands now as Rana must have been at the start of his career. When we posed this question to Rana, prompt came the reply, “It is not about how well-equipped I am to handle these kids but about how well they understand the situation right now. Also there needs to be some control over the money these shooters are given.”

It’s a precarious position to be in. As much as Rana wants youngsters to realise the worth of staying away from the distractions, he understands that he’s dealing with teenagers, or grown up kids. So it’s not advisable to push them beyond their limits.

“If you see, the performance has improved as compared to the previous years. These young kids carry the burden of expectations from everyone, and their own self too. So they need to be mentally very stable. But it is not possible all the time. Just for instance I was at the shooting range today, and I did not see Manu and Saurabh there. They must have been tired from the flight and felicitation programs. Now Asian leg is on our head and you ought to be training every day. To get results, you have to forget all these factors and be back on your feet.”

A thorough taskmaster that Rana sounds, he finally appreciates his wards and has his hopes pinned on the Asian Championships next year, that will have maximum number of quotas for Tokyo 2020.

“Shooting is perhaps one sport, even if you get results with one method on one occasion, you might fail the next time. So you have to be on top of your game all the time. But then at the end of the day you can just look back at the effort put in and be happy with the work done by the shooters.”

“We hope to get as much quota places as we can for the Olympics in Asian Championships. That is the big goal right now, and I have faith in these shooters to do well,” he signed off.
| Edited by: Nikhil Narain
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