The India juniors won 43 medals, including 17 gold, which was more than double of the second-placed USA who won 21 medals, including seven gold.
The picture looked far from rosy when the Tokyo Olympics ended on August 8, where Indian shooters managed a solitary qualification for the finals and returned without a medal for a second successive outing at the Games.
It led to a blame game, with National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) president, Raninder Singh, accusing Rana as a “negative factor”.
“There was just one person who was the negative factor in the whole thing (differences within the squad and among coaches)…I am referring to Jaspal Rana,” the NRAI chief had said.
It had all started when Chinki Yadav was ignored for the women’s 25m Pistol in the Olympic squad, leading to alleged differences between Rana and Manu Bhaker.
But Rana insists he was never out of the system despite everything that happened off the firing point in Tokyo.
“I was never thrown out of any responsibility,” said the 45-year-old talking to TimesofIndia.com after his return from Peru. “What they (NRAI) did, they did, but I was always the junior (pistol) team’s coach. I don’t think they can take that thing away from me just like that.”
But when asked if the NRAI president has spoken to him since the Tokyo Olympics, the answer was a straight “No”.
Rana, however, has made up his mind that he won’t be available to accompany the squad at the 2024 Paris Olympics, possibly because of being ignored for Tokyo, followed by accusations of creating differences.
“I don’t think it’s my domain anymore. It was never my domain, the Olympics,” said Rana, who primarily shot in the centre-fire pistol category, which is not an Olympic event, during his playing days.
“I am happy with the junior squad and will remain with the junior squad from now on. I will not go (to the Paris Olympics) now.
“It’s not about what happened in Tokyo…(but) I think I should concentrate on the junior squad and leave whatever happens in the senior team. I will rather keep myself happy that way. I would stick to the job that I have and be like a ‘farmer’ (raising fresh crops),” Rana further told TimesofIndia.com.
.@realmanubhaker became the first 🇮🇳 shooter to win the highest number of medals in a single edition of the ISSF Ju… https://t.co/bMKUTuOML7
— Khelo India (@kheloindia) 1633961575000
ON MANU BHAKER
In Tokyo, the NRAI president had revealed that Rana wore a T-shirt in public at the Delhi World Cup earlier this year in March, with Manu’s text message to him hand-written on it.
It further highlighted the growing differences between Rana and Manu.
Two months later, both were on the same flight for the ISSF Junior World Championships, but Rana suggested it was business as usual without any air of animosity.
“I never had any differences with her (Manu),” said Rana.
So, did the two interact like before?
“On the field, yes,” he said in reply to the question.
“She (Manu) made the right choice to shoot in this competition. It was more important for her to regain the confidence that she has a champion inside her, who was a little shaken (in Tokyo). It’s very important for her before the Paris Olympics.
“It was my decision to put her in five events…I wanted her to shoot as much as possible because it’s not important to win or lose, it’s important that she is comfortable shooting (in all) events now,” Rana further told TimesofIndia.com.
Manu returned from Lima with five medals around her neck — four gold and a bronze, the most by an Indian at a single edition of the junior world championships.
Several attempts to contact her for a comment remained unsuccessful.
The tournament (in Lima) also faced some criticism from the likes of former double-trap shooter and Khel Ratna awardee Ronjan Sodhi, who questioned sending shooters for non-Olympic events.
The Indian squad included 85 shooters, out of which 48 played in Olympics events.
Also, apart from the 43 medals listed officially, India won five more medals, but in events that had only Indian participation. The double trap men’s event had three participants, while the women’s category had four – all participants were from India.
Team India won all medals on the final day of the World Championship in Peruhttps://t.co/FtV0agI2s9 https://t.co/dVhp8qzKuX
— ISSF (@ISSF_Shooting) 1633819730000
With no other country sending its entries in those events, these were turned into grand prix level instead of world championship, and the medals won were not included in the final tally.
Sodhi called it “an absolute waste of money” while talking to The Times of India.
Rana, meanwhile, lamented the fact that somebody from the shooting fraternity made “negative” and “discouraging” observations.
“Who is he (Ronjan Sodhi) to decide that?” questioned Rana. “When the Prime Minister of the country is praising the entire team and the government is spending money, who is he to say that? Is cricket an Olympic sport? How much money is spent on that?” questioned Rana.
Outstanding performance by our shooters! India emerges on top of the medal tally at the Shooting Junior World Champ… https://t.co/5lYvYdhWbi
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) 1633873494000
“In double trap, there was not a single entry from any other country but they still shot. That’s very important for these kids, to get a chance to shoot. The top man (PM) of the country is praising the team but somebody from our own fraternity is talking so negatively.
Rana went on to cite his own example from his playing days to justify sending athletes for non-Olympic events as well.
“My event, centre fire pistol, was never in the Olympics; but I was more than happy to win medals for the country in Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and World Championships. What is the need of saying something which is discouraging the shooters, that too those between age 12 to 21,” Rana asked to conclude.