Monday, Dec 04, 2023

Curious Case Of Marcelli Dradi And Indian Shooting - An Asian Games 2023 Sideshow

Curious Case Of Marcelli Dradi And Indian Shooting - An Asian Games 2023 Sideshow

The foreign coach of the Indian trap shooting team arrived in Osijek (Croatia) on Thursday and was seen wearing a Spanish team jersey

The Indian trap team at a practice session in Hangzhou on Friday.
The Indian trap team at a practice session in Hangzhou on Friday. X/@OfficialNRAI

Days after the foreign coach of the Indian trap shooting team, Marcelli Dradi, left the country with the marksmen still in their final phase of their preparation for the Asian Games, the Italian expert arrived in Osijek (Croatia) and was seen wearing a Spanish team jersey, congratulating its the junior side for winning a silver medal on Thursday. Osijek is hosting the prestigious European Shotgun Championships from September 8-27. (Schedule | Full Coverage | Sports News)

Dradi, who has been hired as India trap coach recently to prepare the team for the Asian Games, Asian Championships and the Paris Olympics, can be seen in the video sitting in the spectators' gallery and later congratulating the Spanish junior men's team for winning the silver medal.

The one-hour-15-minute video of the junior trap final was posted on September 21 by the European Shooting Confederation (ESC) on its website.

A senior official, who was part of the Asian Games training camp at the Karni Singh Ranges, confirmed to PTI that the national camp concluded on September 19 and the contingent flew to Hangzhou, the venue for the Asian Games, on the same night.

Dradi left the country on September 16, three days before the camp ended, citing a "medical follow-up" back home in Italy.

"The camp concluded on September 19 and Dradi left on September 16," the official said.

The fact was also confirmed by National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) secretary Rajiv Bhatia to PTI.

Pushpendra Garg, the CEO of Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) and High Performance Director (SAI), told PTI from Hangzhou that he has asked for an explanation from NRAI why Dradi left the camp early.

"I have sent it (written to NRAI seeking a reply). I am out of the country now. I have asked them (NRAI), why has he left. My Gmail is not opening here (in China, so cannot check the reply)," added Garg.

A source told PTI that it was made clear to Dradi from day one that he won't be going for the Asian Games with the India team. 

"When the only thing you can do in those three-four days you are at the range is to just speak to the shooters, and do little else, why would someone want to stay back. So he left."

The source also doubted whether Dradi would come back to India to take up the coaching assignment.

The trap contingent is being accompanied to Hangzhou by former shotgun shooter Vikram Chopra, while there is still no clarity on who will be accompanying the skeet team given the accreditation muddle.

It would most likely be Jetender Beniwal, who also went with the skeet contingent to the ISSF Junior World Championships in Changwon in July.
NRAI president Kalikesh Singhdeo said, "Dradi was never on the 'long list' of coaches (sent by the Indian Olympic Association to the Asian Games Organising Committee). The 'long list' was given 2-3 months ago, when Marcello was not even on the scene (of being hired as India coach)."

Asked if Dradi's name could have been included in the 'long list' after he had signed the contract, Singhdeo said, "The idea was we already had one Indian coach who is going (Vikram Chopra) for trap."

Asked whether Dradi's decades of experience wouldn't have been an asset to the team, he said, "Dradi has come on board 15-20 days back...or one month ago, now we can only send one coach (in trap) because of the quota places for Asian Games."

"(Also) one of the things Dradi has to do is to start building a more substantial rapport with the athletes, which will happen in due course. So, in today's context we already had a coach who was selected and Dradi was a newcomer whose name was also not in the 'long list' so we decided to go with Chopra in trap."

Marcello will be there for the Asian Championships (later this year) and the Olympics in 2024.

Interestingly, Dradi knows Indian shooting and the Karni Singh Ranges like the back of his hand, having been the country's trap coach on three previous occasions, and being familiar with most Indian faces.

Singhdeo said, he "wasn't aware" about Dradi's presence in Osijek with the Spanish contingent at the European Shotgun Championships.