New Delhi: A firm believer of the saying 'silence is golden', India's pistol coach Smirnov Pavel doesn't mind a gag order being issued on the country's top shooters in his quest to help them prepare for the Rio Olympics in the best possible manner.
It was the Russian, who mentored Vijay Kumar before he went on to clinch a silver medal at the London Olympics three years ago.
And now he has under his wing another bright prospect, pistol king Jitu Rai, who has won an unprecedented seven medals in one calendar year, making him a hot favourite to finish on the podium in the Brazilian city next year.
"Jitu is obviously there, he is very hard working, but there are others too. But just like with Vijay Kumar before the London Games, I would say they should not be approached for interviews and all," Pavel, who was working with the Army Marksmanship Unit (AMU) in Mhow, Madhya Pradesh, before being appointed coach of the Indian team in 2013, told PTI today.
He added, "It is very important to be silent and focus on the job. Questions such as 'how many medals can one expect in Olympics, how about the preparations only add to the pressure. That should not be the way."
Pavel says the real preparation for Rio Games will start only in January 2016, after the team selection is complete.
"How can I prepare for Olympics till we have the complete team, which will happen after the final selection trial in January. The Asian Shooting Championship is also coming up and we can win a few more quotas in Kuwait as well," he said on the sidelines of the 8th Asian Air Gun Championship at the Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range.
India has so far earned eight quotas for the quadrennial extravaganza and the shooting fraternity, including the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI), is hopeful of winning 4-5 more and exceed the 11 the country had for the 2012 London Games.
Before Pavel's arrival, the Indian national team had been without a dedicated pistol coach since 2008. The high-profile Ukrainian coach Anatoly Podubbny was brought on board for the previous Olympics but his term was marred with disputes with the Sports Authority of India over financial matters.
Previously Pavel was employed as a coach with the junior shooting team of DOSAAF Russia. The Indian Army employed him in 2007 to further their 'Olympic Mission' program. At AMU, which is a specialised unit of the Infantry School, he joined the project to identify talented shooters within the army and train them for national and international competitions.
In the cantonment town of Mhow, his five-year long association with Vijay Kumar resulted in a number of Asian and Commonwealth Games medals and ultimately, the much coveted Olympic glory.
Quietly, he is looking forward to experience a few more glorious moments in the near future.