TOPS Boss to Do Inquiry Why Shotgun Coach Marcello Dradi Left Asian Games Shooting Camp

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The Sports Authority of India (SAI) will do an “inquiry” into why foreign coach for trap shooting, Marcello Dradi, left the country even as the shooters were going through their final training drills before leaving for the Asian Games in Hangzhou.

Dradi, the Italian shotgun expert who has been hired on the recommendations of the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI), left for home on Friday night even as the national camp is currently underway at the Karni Singh Shooting Range.

Pushpendra Garg, the CEO of Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) and High Performance Director (SAI), told PTI on Sunday that he will do an inquiry why the foreign expert left the country.

The expenditure incurred on bringing foreign experts to the country, their lodging, boarding and contractual obligations are taken care of by SAI, though the actual short-listing of the coaches and recommending their names to the government is done by the sports federations, in this case NRAI.

Garg, when asked if he had tried to inquire from NRAI why did Dradi leave at such a crucial juncture, said, “I didn’t know about this (issue). I came to know about this today… we’ll find out. We will do an inquiry when… we will find out why did he leave. We will ask the NRAI, who else?”

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“Let me just go back to my office tomorrow, then will sit down and discuss with the team then we will seek a reply from the NRAI,” he added.

NRAI secretary Rajiv Bhatia too confirmed that Dradi had left India on Friday.

The shotgun team will be without both Dradi and skeet expert Ennio Falco at the Asian Games, something that experts feel could dampen the spirits of the players.

On why TOPS wasn’t asking tough questions from NRAI regarding the foreign coaches with less than a week to go for the Asian Games, Garg, who was present at the Asian Games sendoff function for shooter at the Karni Singh Ranges on Sunday, said, “There are new instruction since February 2022 in which this entire issue of hiring of foreign coaches is the federation’s prerogative.”

A source said on Saturday that Dradi’s coaching contract with the Spanish team had not yet ended and he had “unofficially” started training the Indian team.

However, Dradi had said that he was going back to Italy for some “medical follow-up”.

Bhatia also informed that the national skeet coach, Jitender Beniwal, who was supposed to travel with the Indian team to Hangzhou, will also be unable to go as his name did not figure in the ‘long list’ of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) sent to the Hangzhou Asian Games organisers.

“Beniwal will not be going to Hangzhou as was decided earlier. But (another coach) Anwar Sultan’s name is there on the ‘long list’. We are trying to get his name included,” he said.

Interestingly, both Anwar and Vikram Chopra — the other shotgun coach accompanying the team — are trap experts, which will leave the men’s and women’s skeet contingent without a coach.

Asian Games gold medallist in double trap and Khel Ratna awardee Ronjan Sodhi questioned, “Why was Dradi called for such a short-duration (camp)” in the first place?.

“As far as the name figuring in the ‘long list’ is concerned, it is a very small thing. It can be rectified anytime. The name can be changed anytime.

“When I spoke to Anwar a few days ago, he said he was not going. Now, there are plans to send him. So there is a lot of confusion within the group. I feel there is a lot of infighting among the entire group, so they (NRAI) should figure it out and solve this for the betterment of the shooters.”

On whether it was sending a conflicting signal to the shooters, which could affect their performance at the Games, Sodhi said, “100 per cent. Because they are confused… they do not know who is going and who is not going five days before their departure.”

(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – PTI)

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