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Coach's absence affected Suma's showing

Source: PTI
Last updated on: August 22, 2004 21:00 IST
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Shooter Suma Shirur says the absence of a coach and lack of experience of playing in finals stood between her and a podium finish at the Athens Olympics.

Shirur, who finished a creditable eighth in the 10-metre air rifle event, in which her more celebrated compatriot Anjali Bhagwat failed to qualify for the final, said she is happy with her performance in her maiden appearance at the Games.

"The competition was very tough and this being my first major international final, I needed an exceptionally good performance to win a medal", the 30-year-old Shirur said after returning from Athens on Sunday.

"But, overall, I'm happy with my performance as despite the very high standard I could make it to the final with some fine shooting.

"However, in the final I had only average performance, while I needed an exceptional final to win a medal," she added.

Shirur said the absence of a coach also affected the performance of all the shooters.

"Another drawback was that we were left without a coach to guide us during the mega event. Former coach Laszlo Szucsak of Hungary had really worked hard to make us good shooters after the spate of poor performances of the Indians in the eighties, when we could not even win medals in Commonwealth and other international events," Shirur said.

"With his guidance we became a force to reckon with not only in Asia but also worldwide," the Maharashtra girl said.

Szucsak decided to quit as Indian coach a few months before the Games and took up a new assignment with the Japanese national team.

"I was seeking his advice on and off which also helped me perform till the final. But I couldn't finish it off as well as I wanted to," Shirur said.

"I'm also thankful to the Japanese shooters who let me train with them a couple of months ago though they knew that I was one of their opponents in the Olympics."

Shirur observed that the standard of the Games has drastically risen in last four years.

"Even the standard in the Olympics has gone up by leaps and bounds. Previously the yardstick (standard) was 397 points, but in the Athens Games it was 399, which clearly shows the very high standard one has to perform at," she said.

"Out of the eight Olympic quotas, who can make it to the competition, only two from India (she and Abhinav Bindra) could qualify, which clearly shows the competition level has gone up and I hope I can give a better performance in future international competitions," Shirur added.

Asked whether she was aware of Anjali's poor show in the same event during the competition, Shirur replied in the negative and said, "I was more focused on my performance and only came to know about the other Indian participants after the final."

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