Home What triggered Olympian Joydeep Karmakar's resignation?

    What triggered Olympian Joydeep Karmakar’s resignation?

    Joydeep Karmakar

    Away from the spotlight and time on his hands, Joydeep Karmakar is putting together the pieces of the plot that led to his unceremonious exit as the national 50m rifle coach. This was after “feeling uncomfortable for a while but opting to stay silent to keep the dignity of the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI)”.

    The dust is settling down on the sordid drama but Karmakar’s brave front cannot hide the hurt yet. “If a coach’s performance is not a criterion, what is,” he asks.

    In the Olympian’s tenure at the helm since assuming charge in May 2022, the shooters reaped a never-before haul at ISSF events in an event not considered a traditional strength — 11 medals and 1 Olympic quota place in six ISSF events.

    Yet, the NRAI chose to let Karmakar go by not renewing his contract and allowed the “lobby” gunning for his head have the last laugh as the coach searched for answers in the event of no communication from the NRAI after his contract expired on April 30.

    Says Karmakar, “When I look back, what appeared as isolated incidents were connected to get me out.” It all started at the Cairo World Championships in October last when a chain of events raised several red flags.

    Despite Karmakar maintaining that he will not get into a “blame game” in public domain or “name and shame those responsible”, a copy of the email Karmakar wrote to NRAI president Kalikesh Singh Deo on April 19, which is in possession with indianshooting.com, proves that the coach was fighting for his reputation after a string of “allegations” were raised against him.

    During the World Championships in Cairo, Karmakar was photographed from a distance, shaking hands with Luciano Rossi, who was in the race to be ISSF president. The meeting was construed as “politicking” and the matter raised by NRAI secretary Rajiv Bhatia, but Karmakar, in his email, termed the brief interaction a mere exchange of pleasantries.

    The next episode happened during the finals of the Cairo World Championships when High Performance Director Pierre Beauchamp manhandled Karmakar in public view. Though Beauchamp apologized later and Karmakar said he “hugged and forgave”, the coach was clearly charting stormy waters.

    Karmakar’s son Adriyan is among the bright spots in 50m rifle shooting, and after his superlative show at the recent Khelo India Games and other national events is ready to break into the national team. In his email, Karmakar claims he was accused by the “lobby” of giving preference to training his son and neglecting the Indian shooters. In his defence, Karmakar wrote to the NRAI chief that wasn’t the case as when Adriyan was cornering glory at the Khelo India Games he was busy training his wards in the national team.

    Karmakar also denied being in love with the spotlight, as claimed by his detractors, by posing with shooters on the victory march. In his defence, Karmakar wrote, “Shooters often ask me take their video or pictures which we work together to analysis. On a lighter note, shooters even ask me to take a few candid shots of them for their personal use. The pictures which were taken of me with winning shooters, are of course not from my phone or camera, they are taken from gallery by our other team mates or others.”

    Neither this email to the NRAI president nor the one sent to secretary general Kanwar Sultan Singh on June 10, in which he stated he was stepping down for “personal reasons” in light of the NRAI keeping silent on his status as national coach, evoked no response from the federation.

    Despite the muck that has flown the past few days — NRAI secretary Rajiv Bhatia taking to social media to state that Karmakar’s contract wasn’t sent for renewal to the Sports Authority of India, Karmakar says he is not “in a fight with the NRAI”.

    “The NRAI is doing an excellent job, in fact I am indebted to it, but there are a few bad apples. Those involved have an agenda and their actions will have a ripple effect on the shooters (read, their performance).”

    With the Hangzhou Asian Games in September and Paris Olympics a year away, Karmakar’s exit at this juncture does not bode well, and surely the NRAI could have handled the episode better.

    For Karmakar, the future is uncertain, and despite claiming “where there is shooting, I will always be there”, another coaching stint, should the NRAI reaches out in the future, sets him thinking.

    “That is a difficult question to answer,” says the man, who despite claims that he is ready to “forgive and forget”, will be hurting for a while.


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