Gag order on Indian shooters as expectations rise

"Till the events are over, nobody is allowed to talk or give interviews. There is nothing wrong in interacting but cannot do so for the sake of medals," Thomas told PTI.

"Tension is building up, so the focus is now firmly on the Games. They are concentrating and working hard.

"Everybody keeps talking about the number of medals Indian shooters win. We have strong team but the expectations are slowly getting into our shooters. There is also the additional pressure of performing in front the home crowd, so we decided to take this step after a meeting on September 15," Thomas said.

Unlike other sports like boxing, hockey and badminton, in which crowd support often boosts the confidence of the players or inspire them to do the extraordinary, shooting is different in a sense that it is all about concentration.

"It's completely different. Your heart beat can change, your pulse rate can change, and a slight lapse in concentration and everything is lost. Years of toil could go down the drain in a matter of few minutes," Thomas said.

"I know a lot of people are disappointed but we have no other option. In fact, they (shooters) themselves requested me that they be kept away from the media," the coach added.

Thomas said the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) had adopted a similar approach before the Athens and Beijing Olympics in 2004 and 2008, respectively.

"We went to Hungary before the Athens Olympics and trained there for four weeks and before the last Olympics we travelled to Malaysia and was there for about three weeks. It worked well for us as the shooters could concentrate better," he said.

The Indian shooting contingent, comprising of five world record holders including two world champions -- Ronjan Sodhi and Tejaswini Sawant -- is expected to lead India's medal count in the Games.

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