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Jun 17, 2007 at 03:04pm IST

Pupils gun to bring back coach's glory

New Delhi: How many times have we seen it in Indian sports - a man who turned ordinary sportspersons into world beaters being given the boot.

Shooting coach Tibor Gonzcol may have been forgotten by the government, but not by the people he trained.

Asian Games triple gold medallist Jaspal Rana with the man who turned him into a world champion. Seventy-year-old Tibor Gonzcol is the man responsible for giving Indian shooting an international platform and stature.

He was appointed coach in 1993 and then trained future champions like Anjali Bhagwat, Samresh Jung and Rana. In fact, he and national coach Sunny Thomas put in the system that now churns out winner after winner.

"At the time, it was a new place for me. But I had no problems, because I could see that people really wanted to improve. And I made friends with them very quickly," Gonzcol says.

Rana has often said that Tibor is the best coach he has ever had, and Tibor of course has reason to be proud of his favourite pupil. But that hasn't meant any special treatment for Rana.

"Once I reached the range, maybe 10 minutes late, he asked me to go back home. He never used to compromise on discipline and used to be very strict for that," Rana says.

With 16 gold medals at the Commonwealth Games and 14 medals at the Asian Games, the Indian shooters have shown that they have the talent to take on the world. But can they take it a step further and win Olympic medals?

"You can't build up for an Olympic medal in two or three years. By the time they start looking for Beijing, it's too late. Now they would have to think four years after," Gonzcol says.

Despite his success, Tibor's contract wasn't renewed in 2002. Government rules say that a coach can't be over 70. The shooters are still upset. But efforts are on to convince the government and have him back on board.

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