NEW DELHI: The National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) may like to revisit its plans to start the preparatory national camp for the country’s Tokyo Olympic-bound shooters and core probables from mid-August after Shakun Bhugra, the coach of the Indian junior shooting team, tested positive for covid-19 infection here, prompting the authorities to send the Karni Singh Shooting Range’s (KSSR) office staff in a 14-day quarantine period for coming in possible contact with the veteran coach.
Bhugra is one of the oldest and most dedicated shooting coaches, having been appointed on the Sports Authority of India’s (SAI) payrolls as a full-time coach with the Indian junior rifle team in September 2018. Bhugra would always be seen at the KSSR, motivating and cheering up the Indian shooters whenever the national and international competitions or the Delhi state and North Zone meets take place. Bhugra is the vice chairperson of the Delhi State Rifle Association (DSRA) and, according to its website, has over 35 years of experience in the field of shooting sports.
According to the SAI, the veteran coach visited the KSSR’s administrative block on July 24, but didn’t visit the field of play or interact with any of the shooters training at the facility. According to sources, the office staff of the administrative block, which had met Bhugra during her visit, has been told by the SAI to undergo 14-day home quarantine. The staff members will also have to get themselves tested for covid-19 before joining the duty.
As far as shooters are concerned, who have been training at the range, some of them told TOI that they didn’t meet Bhugra during her visit. A pistol shooter, who has been attending the optional practice sessions at the range, informed that she last visited the range on Saturday and, since then, hasn’t been going to the facility for practice. The range has been sanitised for the shooters.
“A coach posted in Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range has tested covid positive. The result of the test was intimated to the authorities by the coach on July 30. The coach had visited the centre’s administrative department on July 24, 2020. She did not visit the Field of Play or interacted with any athlete training at the centre. All actions as per protocol have been taken. The centre has been sanitised and training of shooters will not be affected,” SAI said in a statement. The range was reopened for use on July 8.
The national camp for the 32 shooters of the Olympic core group was originally scheduled for August 1 start. But, the NRAI has now postponed it until mid-August. The shooters and coaches have been questioning the need and urgency for such an ‘ill-timed’ camp even as the pandemic is peaking. Moreover, the shooters, coaches and high-performance manager, Ronak Pandit, have alleged that they weren’t consulted by the NRAI’s governing body before announcing the dates for camp.
Some of the shooters, who have been frequenting the KSSR in their personal capacity, include Mairaj Ahmad Khan, Sheeraz Sheikh, Manu Bhaker, Deepak Kumar, Sanjeev Rajput and Anish Bhanwala. But, most of them have either been staying in Delhi-NCR region or travel occasionally from nearby cities in Haryana. Some have even rented apartments near the range in and around Faridabad.

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