Updated February 19th, 2024 at 23:42 IST

India's trap shooting coach Dradi says he has liver cancer, Paris preparations could be hit

India's shotgun foreign coach, Italy's Marcello Dradi on Monday revealed that he is suffering from liver cancer, which would come as a bad news for the country's trap shooters preparing for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.

Marcello Dradi says he cannot leave his country for more than four days at a stretch | Image:AP
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India's shotgun foreign coach, Italy's Marcello Dradi on Monday revealed that he is suffering from liver cancer, which would come as a bad news for the country's trap shooters preparing for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.

Dradi was hired early last year by the Sports Authority of India (SAI) on the recommendations of the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) after Australian shotgun expert Russell Mark, the 1996 Atlanta Olympics gold medallist in double trap, and his wife, skeet coach Lauryn Mark, quit following alleged differences with the national sports body for shooting.

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In an exclusive interview with PTI, Dradi, who has coached powerhouses such as China, Great Britain, Russia, France and Spain among others, said he recently underwent a surgery after the cancer returned for the third time after remaining in remission for three years and that a small portion of the liver had to be removed.

The 54-year-old also said that he cannot leave his country for more than four days at a stretch due to post-surgery follow-ups.

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This effectively rules out the trap expert for long training camps in India and competitions abroad.

"I wanted to have the surgery in December (last year) but there was no way to have the surgery then. I am ready to come (to India) as I said at the beginning but..." Dradi has not been with India team for quite some time now because of the health issues and also missed the Asian Games in Hangzhou last year because of accreditation-relates issues.

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Asked when he was planning to come to India next, he said, "I cannot come earlier because I had to wait for this surgery. Till I don't have this surgery I cannot go away from Italy more than three days... maximum four days (sic)," said the Italian.

"Coming to India means one day... one day to come and one day to come back to Italy. Then I have to stay there in India) for one day, there's no point. I wanted to have the surgery a littler earlier but the doctor who did the surgery is the top one from Italy and I don't want to go to another," said Dradi on delaying the surgery.

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"I told all this to NRAI. If you want I can come in this way." Asked if he thought of quitting given his health condition, Dradi said it would be great if he ends his coaching career seeing an Indian trap shooter on the podium in Paris.

"Yes, obviously. I signed the contract because I would like to close my career with a medal, not with a (Olympic) quota, for India. I wasn't expecting (the health would suffer) when I signed the contract.

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"It's a new thing... it is third cancer I have in five years. But the first two were around three years ago. I was sure it was solved. This came out in November (last year), we found in beginning of November. Yes, liver cancer, but it is solved, no problem. I'm doing a follow-up and found it when it was just very little (sic)," he said from Italy.

"I am one of the most experienced coaches of the world, won seven Olympic medals as coach. When I signed the contract, I want to come (sic), but cancer to liver is not a little thing and managing it is not so easy. What do I do? But the good thing is I found it very, very on time.

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"We just cut the part of the liver, that is all Ok. But, obviously, I want to train India to win Olympic medal." He added that Indian shooting setup will need some changes to win a medal in shotgun events at the Paris Olympics.

"Winning the quota is normal with the kind of money India is spending. No country in the world is spending so much that India is spending.

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"I coached China, Great Britain, Russia, France and Spain now... one of the biggest teams in the world. If we (India) don't change some things, we will not win any medal. We can win another quota but no medal," he added.

NRAI secretary Rajiv Bhatia when asked about the Dradi and the status of his contract, given his condition, said, "I have no idea about him. He was not well, that was the reason." Asked if he had undergone surgery, he said, "I have no idea. He was contracted till the Olympic Games but he is not coming. Now people here are taking care (of camps and competitions)... (former trap shooter) Mansher (Singh) is our mentor, he taking care of it. The NRAI senior vice-president (Kalikesh Singh Deo) would be better placed to speak on the issue." Singh Deo, when contacted, said, he had been in Odisha for the last one month and was unaware of any recent development.

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"I've been in Odisha for the last one month for my elections. If there is any recent development, I am not aware," said Singhdeo. PTI AM AM ATK ATK

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Published February 19th, 2024 at 23:42 IST