Rio de Janeiro, Aug 9: Indian shooters may have drawn a blank so far but pistol chief coach Smirnov Pavel compared Jitu Rai with a diamond and said he is ready to shine at the Rio Olympics here on Wednesday (Aug 10).
Among the 12-member shooting contingent, only Abhinav Bindra came within striking distance of winning a medal in the 10m air rifle, before the Beijing Games gold winner lost in a closely-fought shoot-off to finish fourth.
"I can only talk about Jitu and he's ready. To me Jitu Rai is a diamond," Pavel told PTI at the dry firing range of the Olympic shooting centre in Deodoro on the eve of the Army man's much-anticipated 50m men's pistol event.
"He has the technique and the temperament that's needed at this stage. It's about dealing them with emotion at the final tomorrow," he said.
"You have to find the right kind of diamond after constant digging, and once you get it you've to hone it to perfection. You just can't bring someone from the street and shine him like a diamond."
Having coached Vijay Kumar to a silver medal at the London Olympics four years ago, the Russian is hopeful of Jitu and said it's the Army's tough selection process that makes them unique.
"We follow a good selection process in the Army and it's the system that makes them the best," Pavel said.
The latest to join the list of eliminators was Heena Sidhu who failed to qualify for the final in the 25m pistol today. Having finished 14th in her pet 10m Pistol, in her second and last event, the 2010 Commonwealth Games champion ended a disappointing 20th.
Though Heena is coached by her husband Ronak Pandit who is also the manager of the team, Pavel also helps her out when needed. She said the 25 pistol was not Heena's event.
"She is doing that for one year now." Looking ahead, Pavel said shooting would be much bigger.
"In Tokyo 2020 things will improve vastly. We will have many excellent youngsters coming up."