By Ajai Masand
New Delhi, July 28 (Indus Prism) Manu Bhakar’s gun malfunction during her 10m air pistol event at the Tokyo Olympics is fast becoming a big talking point on social media with allegations flying thick and fast and pistol coach Ronak Pandit getting trolled, even as the 15-member strong Indian contingent continues to fire blanks at the quadrennial showpiece.
On July 25, Manu Bhaker, who was one of the favourites for a podium finish in air pistol at Tokyo, had a weapon malfunction after the first series in the qualification round, which put paid to her hopes of making it to the finals. A lot of time was lost in repair and when Manu returned, precious little time was left for her to complete her series, resulting in her hurrying the shot and shooting below-par scores.
As first reported by IANS, the gun manufacturer of the brand used by Manu — Morini — was quick to post a series of messages on social media (which were later deleted) indicating that his repair outlet was close at hand, but no Indian approached him.
“Today (Monday, July 26), we had the opportunity to speak with the Indonesian judge who dealt with the case of Manu Bhaker. The judge also does gun maintenance in his club and therefore knows the problems well,” Morini gun-maker Francesco Repich had said in his now-deleted Facebook post.
“He (judge) told us the following: ‘The (Indian) coaches said the pistol had slightly loosened the charge screw. He followed the athlete and the coach into the room next door where he saw the coach screw the lever back and replace the electronics without knowing why. Time taken about 10 minutes. In his opinion, more qualified people would have taken less (time). In the end he (judge) asked the coach if sighting shots were needed and the answer was no!'” wrote Repich in his Facebook post, the screen grabs of which are with IANS.
Repich had earlier indicated through his FB post that the Morini outlet was nearby and anyone requiring professional help could approach him.
“Morini technical repair place at the Tokyo olympic games. For people that don’t know where we are, we are at the left of weapon deposit office!” Repich had written.
In response to Repich’s post, Indian pistol shooting coach at the Olympics, Ronak Pandit, who is the husband of top shooter Heena Sidhu — a contemporary of Manu Bhaker — posted a five-minute video on social media explaining the difficulty of approaching the gun-manufacturer’s outlet inside the shooting range.
Ronak posted the video on Facebook and wrote, “My response to the lies of Repich – Morini. They say truth is stranger than fiction but this one is pretty straight forward.”
The video, first indicated to detail the layout of the shooting range, the firing station on which Manu was standing, and the time it would have taken for Manu and Ronak to reach the gun-maker’s outlet and return to the competition arena.
Ronak, whose wife Heena Sidhu competed alongside Manu Bhaker at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta/Palembang in 10m air pistol, was trolled on social media after he posted the video.
A lot of his followers asked Ronak to concentrate on the job at hand or quit his post as pistol coach.
“Agree she (Manu) had issue in individual event but what happened to Mix event…you still have some excuse for her disastrous performance in Mix team event. It’s time to go @CoachRonak, you failed as a coach, she was shooting way better before you started. Harsh reality,” wrote a fan on twitter.
Manu Bhaker, pairing with Saurabh Chaudhary, also could not make it to the finals of the 10m air pistol mixed event, finishing seventh on Tuesday.
“How is this helping Manu when she still has an event left? Couldn’t all this dirty laundry airing and name calling wait until that is over? What kind of frame of mind will the poor girl me in the midst of all this toxicity,” wrote another fan on twitter.
“A bad workman always quarrel with his tools. 8 shooters, 6 events, multiple rankers but no-one even qualified in Top 5 and year the coach is justifying with one incident. Why did others fail why did manu fail today? Its high time we learn from China and Usa,” wrote another fan.
The Indian shooting contingent, including coaches and other support staff, had been flown to Croatia on a chartered flight for a two-month training-cum-competition stint to prepare them for the Olympics. The contingent had flown straight from Croatia to Tokyo for the Olympics.