Oly champ Mark plans trap revival, won’t play favourites


Tribune News Service

Vinayak Padmadeo

New Delhi, June 30

Russell Mark has a soft spot for India and Indian shooters. The double Olympics medallist — he won the double trap gold in 1996 Atlanta, followed by silver in Sydney four years later — has signed up to coach the Indian trap team. Russell last year disclosed that his great-grandmother was Indian. After having trained the likes of Athens silver medallist Col Rajyavardhan Rathore and former world No. 1 Ronjan Sodhi, Russell was offered the reins of the Indian team a number of times.

After initial disinterest, Russell finally decided to take up the offer once it became clear that the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) was also keen to bring Lauryn Mark as the shotgun team’s new High Performance Manager. Russell and Lauryn have been married since 2004. In a way, Lauryn’s appointment made Russell finally take up the offer.

“The interest in Lauryn made it easier for me to decide. It also showed that both NRAI and SAI are attuned to these times because not many countries would be willing to make a woman the High Performance Manager,” Russell told The Tribune.

The Marks are in town to oversee India’s preparations ahead of the ISSF World Cup (Rifle, Pistol, Shotgun) that starts in Changwon, South Korea, on July 9. After putting the team through its paces in hot and humid conditions yesterday, the 58-year-old Russell gave the team an off today as monsoon arrived here. “I brought monsoon with me,” he said with a chuckle. “It was interesting as yesterday I encountered difficult humid conditions for the first time in years.”


Russell and Lauryn already have a difference of opinion over the progression of the shotgun contingent, which had failed to qualify for the Tokyo Olympic Games.

“We don’t have to agree on everything. I am a bit selfish for the trap team. She, however, has to look for the skeet team as well as to know how to get the next generation in. Then she has to deal with myself, NRAI, SAI and then there is a lot of politics in India. But the advantage of a foreign coach is that we are removed from personal issues,” he explained.

“We have planned for a three-year policy and already we can see the talent. I am not saying that we will win in Paris (2024 Olympics), we can definitely win in Los Angeles (2028). That is long term. In the short term we will look to get the Indians to participate in Paris,” he added.

No favourites

Russell does not like the idea of nurturing favourites. “The coaches will not have a say in the policy as we are planning to get all of them shoot at the same venue and around the same time. It will make our jobs easier,” he said. “It means that everyone has a chance to get selected and there will be no favourites. Whoever hits the most targets will be my favourite.”

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