India's Shooting Coach Hits Back at Gun-Maker Morini After Row Escalates Over Manu Bhaker's Pistol
12:43 GMT 28.07.2021 (Updated: 14:22 GMT 28.07.2021)
The poor run suffered by Manu Bhaker, India's great hope in shooting, at the Tokyo Olympics has given rise to a massive debate back home. At first, it was Asian and Commonwealth Games gold medalist Jaspal Rana, who was blamed for an underwhelming performance until national coach Ronak Pandit took a different stand in the escalating controversy.
India's national shooting coach Ronak Pandit has blamed Swiss gun manufacturer Morini for 19-year-old Manu Bhaker's misery at the Games in the Japanese capital.
Pandit's scathing attack on Morini came a few hours after the gun maker claimed no one from the Indian team - including the coach or the support staff - approached them for help when Bhaker's pistol suffered a technical glitch during the 10m air pistol qualification event at the Olympics on Sunday.
Francesco Repich, who owns Morini, alleged in a Facebook post that the Indian camp never sought any kind of technical help from them even though the company had erected a stall near the shooting range.
Repich alleged that instead of seeking help from Morini, the Indian coach tried to fix the gun himself, wasting more than 10 minutes.
He wrote that it was perplexing to witness such a sight, since there were people who were more qualified to deal with the situation sitting idle when they could have sorted the problem in less time.
Repich accused the Indians of refusing to check the pistol even after the repair work was complete.
Pandit, however, denied Repich's allegations in a video while giving a detailed account of the much talked about gun malfunctioning episode.
In the video, Pandit gave three important reasons for his decision.
First, according to the Indian coach, Morini's stall was actually quite a long way away from Bhaker's shooting spot and would have required a brisk walk to reach given how little time there was and could have tired Bhaker out before she competed.
"Do you really think her heart rate could have been stable after walking so far to get the gun repaired? Which idiot thinks that?" Pandit said in his video.
Pandit also revealed why Bhaker chose not to use a reserve pistol despite the fault in her primary weapon. "[Bhaker's] previous coach had changed the grip of that pistol, she was not comfortable with it and that is why she stuck to the one which malfunctioned," he said.
Bhaker was the country's biggest hope to win a medal in shooting. But she was left in tears after her pistol experienced a snag as she fired the 16th shot.
Before her gun malfunctioned everything was going according to plan for Bhaker as she had shot an impressive 98 in the first series and was in fourth position at that point and was well on her way to the final. The top eight qualify for the finals.
At that stage, Bhaker had 55 minutes to take her next 44 shots, but the repair work on her gun took 17 minutes and she was left with only 38 minutes to finish her qualification round.
The forced break cost Bhaker dear as it came at a time when the momentum was right behind her.
Eventually, the teenager couldn't come to terms with the altered situation and failed to progress to the finals at the Asaka Shooting Range.
The rules of the Olympics do not allow athletes extra time for malfunctioning equipment.