Denim sleeves rolled up,Jaspal Rana,the acting chairman of Delhi State Rifle Association,is in the middle of applying finishing touches at the 57th National Championships. Banners,volunteers,pantry,he is in the middle of all that unfolds at the Karni Singh shooting ranges in Tuglakhabad on Wednesday.
On Thursday,though,Rana will be seen in a different avatar,as a competitor. When the official practice in the Rapid Fire event takes place,the 37-year old will sport an assembled gun he has borrowed the grip from a shooter,the gun from someone else and will be taking on the likes of Olympic silver medallist Vijay Kumar in the discipline. Rana has won all his gold medals in Centre Fire and Sports Pistol category but has now shifted to this discipline. “I have not trained at all and I know I will not win but next time when I have my own gun,who knows,” he says.
Rana has the added responsibility of taking care of all the last minute details that go into the successful organisation of the event. “It was better when I was only a player,” he says. “All this last minute tension will not faze our team as everyone of us will ensure that this tournament is conducted in the manner it should,” he says.
Rana’s transformation from being one of the biggest critics of the national federation to being a part of the administration he was appointed as a junior national coach last year still rankles many. But Rana doesnt seem to mind it. “There is no problem in me taking all these responsibilities. People were fine with me when I wasn’t doing anything for the sport. So it goes with the territory. Conducting these nationals in the right manner is my only focus right now,” he says.
Three events will get underway on Thursday qualification rounds of 10m air pistol for women,50m free pistol for men and the men’s skeet discipline. World Cup final gold medal winner Heena Sidhu will lead other accomplished shooters including Rahi Sarnobat,Annuraj Singh and Anisa Sayyed. In the free pistol,Samaresh Jung,who won five gold medals at the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games,will lead the field.