New Delhi: India’s two foreign coaches in shotgun, Marcello Dradi and Ennio Falco from Italy, are highly unlikely to accompany the Indian shooting contingent to the Asian Games due to accreditation and contractual technicalities.
Trap coach Dradi and skeet expert Falco were appointed India’s shotgun coaches following the National Rifle Association of India’s (NRAI) fallout with Australia’s Russell and Lauryn Mark, who quit earlier this year.
Dradi will likely miss out as his contract with the Sports Authority of India (SAI) was signed after the ‘long list’ of athletes and accompanying officials had already been finalised by the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and sent to the Hangzhou Asian Games Organising Committee (HAGOC).
Indian trap coach Vikram Chopra will accompany the trap contingent while Jitender Beniwal will most likely accompany the skeet contingent, NRAI secretary Rajiv Bhatia told PTI.
“Their (foreign coaches) contracts were signed after the long list of the Indian Olympic Assocition (IOA) had been finalised and sent to the Asian Games organisers (HAGOC). That is the reason they will likely to miss out,” said Bhatia.
Asked when the ministry could add 25 more athletes to their original list of 634 sportspersons going for the Asian Games on Thursday, why couldn’t Dradi’s name be included, Bhatia said, “We have sent all the documentation to them (IOA)… the recommendation has gone (to the IOA) that their names should be included with the contingent. The proposal has gone but I cannot say with surety what will happen,” he added.
“Vikram Chopra will be with the trap contingent and in skeet, I suppose, Jitender Beniwal will go… we are pressing (for inclusion of) his name for skeet,” added Bhatia.
A source told PTI that Dradi’s coaching contract with the Spanish team had not yet ended and he had “unofficially” started training the Indian team. The Italian expert is currently in India with the trap team preparing for the Asian Games and will probably fly back to Italy on Saturday.
“He has accepted the contract from the government (Sports Authority of India); that’s why he is in India training our shooters. The IOA has said they are trying for (Dradi’s) entry (as coach for Asian Games). Trap events start at a later date, so he can make it, subject to him getting the nod from the organising committee (HAGOC).
On Falco, Bhatia said, the skeet coach will sign the contract in December. He will also miss the Asian Championships, a Paris Olympic qualification event, which will take place in Changwon, South Korea after the Asian Games.
“Falco will also not accompany the team for the Asian Games,” confirmed Bhatia.
“But both will be there for the Asian Championships camp. Dradi is in Delhi (right now) and he attended the Asian Games camp. Falco didn’t as he had (already) done a camp with the Indians earlier. If at all, he (dradi) gets the HAGOC approval he will straightaway fly from Italy to Hangzhou and joint he team.” Dradi told PTI he had delayed the accreditation because of personal reasons.
“It’s simple. I’ve signed the contract (with SAI) but I don’t have the accreditation because of some problem at home. It wasn’t in my plan to come (to India). They (NRAI) were pushing (me) to come, I will do my best. The team is well trained, we are following up well, they (shooters) are doing well in training,” said the Italian expert.
“The (my) name was sent to IOA late not because of them (NRAI) but because of me, because I have this (medical) follow-up to do…my hospital in Italy. I have to do this follow-up. But I will be there (with Indian contingent) for the Asian Championships and also for all the camps. But I am not worried about the shooters, they have been well trained,” he added.
Asian Games gold medallist in double trap Ronjan Sodhi termed the development “disappointing”.
“Dradi is a part of Indian shooting, that’s what I believe. It’s the fourth time (over the years) he has come back to India (to train the country’s shooters). He has trained the Chinese and the Spanish teams and is well-versed with the conditions in China, while coaching their team.
“It was a well though-out decision to get the best of the best from Italy. Disappointing if he will not be travelling with the (Indian) team. From RVS Rathore to Manavijt Sandhu to me, we have seen it all. There must be a reason why he has been called back to India for a fourth time.
“As far as Falco is concerned, I believe a lot of shooters from India are training with him, as I speak, in Italy including Mairaj Khan. What was the problem to get him to India and train our athletes for the Asian Games, which is paramount for us after the Olympics,” added the Khel Ratna awardee.