With care and caution, Indian shooters could start training together for the Tokyo Olympics, feels the country's biggest achiever in the sport, Abhinav Bindra.
Earlier this year, the 2020 Olympics was rescheduled to next summer owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. But the sporting extravaganza is only "around the corner" for Bindra, who has always felt that succeeding in these Games requires years of planning, dedication and practice.
"I think it is great to see that effort is being made to resume activities. With the Olympic Games in Tokyo around the corner, it would be lovely to have our athletes train in the best way possible," Bindra told PTI in an interview. "Efforts must be made to ensure safety and that protocols on sanitation and social distancing are followed, which is easier as a non-contact sport. I am optimistic about re-opening, and hope it is done with care and caution."
The National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) has decided to conduct a national camp from October 5 to November 8, after receiving requests from the chief coaches in rifle, pistol and shotgun events to conduct at least a month-long camp immediately for better preparation of the shooters.
Bindra, who remain's India's only individual Olympic gold medallist, is lending his voice and a helping hand to the 'Sunfeast India Run As One' initiative, which seeks to raise funds for the millions of Indians whose lives have been ravaged by the pandemic.
For the former world champion, who turns 38 on Monday, resumption of sporting activities can have a positive effect on a world scarred by the unprecedented health crisis."Sport has the power to bring communities today, and even transcend race, culture, and language. While I understand that large scale events may be difficult to organise with crowds, safe and steady increments must be made to bringing back sport. It can serve as a morale booster for the country and everyone involved," said the 2008 Beijing Olympics gold medallist in the 10m air rifle event.
The NRAI had postponed the compulsory training camp for its core group planned from August 1 after taking into account the situation arising out of the pandemic. However, a handful of shooters who are part of the core group have been training on their own at the Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range since the facility was reopened for use on July 8. They have been adhering to the health and safety protocols.
A lot of shooters have been training at their respective bases since the pandemic forced a closure of the facilities.