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Giving it the best shot

Ace marksman Juan Giha, from Peru, is busy moulding international-level shooters at the Gachibowli firing range

Photo: Mohd. Yousuf

COACHING RIGHT Shooter Juan Giha of Peru giving tips to aspiring shooters

The silence of the sylvan surroundings is shattered in the morning. Tucked away in the picturesque Hyderabad Central University (HCU) campus, Sports Authority of Andhra Pradesh's state-of-the-art shooting range comes alive with crack shots from all corners of the country training their sights on the National shooting championships from November 30 to December 10.

The sheriff, so to say, who's overseeing the gunslinging, is six-time Olympian Juan Giha of Peru. The Barcelona Games skeet silver medallist, who came here first to train Amit Sanghi, has now taken a whole set of trainees under his wing. From the goings-on, the marksmen have developed a healthy respect for the man and, he in turn, regard for their potential and prospects.

For over a month, Giha has been monitoring their physical, technical and psychological training, personally taking an account of each shooter's progress. The day begins at 6.30 a.m. with physical training that includes a yoga session. That's followed by a round of table tennis. "This game helps improve eye-hand coordination, so central to shooting," explains Giha. "Besides it sharpens reflexes too," he adds.

Prior to the onset of winter, the trainees also did a stint of swimming. Now the very thought of a dip in the pool gives them the shivers. Technical training gets underway at about 9.30 a.m. The focus is on preparing shooters for competition and Giha lends his expertise to pepping up their shooting skills. He does an almost daily analysis of the levels each shooter has reached.

The evening session kicks off at 6.30 p.m. at the Helios Gym where they tone themselves with weight and cardio training. Giha himself draws up a chart for each shooter, so that none is overloaded or taxed too much with an excessive training regimen.

Each shooter has individual needs and the Peruvian likes to address them separately. "Indian shooters have established their class. That they have reached Olympic/World Cup medal level is itself an indication of their capabilities," says Giha. His optimism is obvious, but guarded, when he says that they are bound to throw up a few pleasant surprises in forthcoming international competition.

He has more than a good word for sports administration, vis--vis shooting in the country. "The facilities at the SAAP range are optimal and the National Rifle Association of India's (NRAI) agenda in providing maximum international exposure for Indian shooters are steps in the right direction," feels Giha. On doubts whether Indian shooters applied themselves enough, he said most of them were able to juggle their professions/occupations successfully with shooting. He himself ran a five-star hotel and later a textile business, which did not prevent his remaining national champion for 27 years!

While he advocates more competitions and a carefully planned programme for top-flight shooters, Giha is confident and happy about Hyderabad and Indian shooters. So taken up is he with the happenings here that he's grateful for the opportunity to work with Indian shooters, while enjoying the support of administrators and associations alike.

Proficiency levels have shot up from elemental to near professional levels, he says. He cites the example of Amit Sanghi, who in a year-and-a-half, has achieved what others would take seven years to accomplish. Giha singles out a string of shooters who have caught his eye. The national sports authorities did well in supporting a month-long training programme for Danny Peoples in Peru. For just 13 years of age, Asher Noria holds a lot of promise, his good showing in the south zone championships at both the senior and junior levels being outstanding. Darius Chenai has also made a mark in the trap event. "Abhinav Reddy is very quick to grasp the finer points," says Giha, as also Rahul Rao, both in skeet.

Giha's programme continues till December 20 and resumes from January 20. His goals will be glory for India at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne and the World Cup competitions that follow.

A. JOSEPH ANTONY

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