The Russian’s appointment was a part of the Army’s Olympic Mission Programme that was launched in 2004 to turn potential talent into medal winners.
“I always believed that army shooters have the ability to strike it rich. Vijay has proved it. They all have the potential to win medals at major international competitions and they are proving it,” Smirnov told IANS at the Royal Artillery Barracks.
The soft-spoken Moscow man has been with the Army Marksman Unit in Mhow, Madhya Pradesh, since 2007. He has been working with Vijay for the last five years to turn him into a champion shooter.
Smirnov remained like a shadow with the Indian Army Subedar during the Games here and now can finally heave a sigh of relief after his ward became the first Indian pistol shooter to win an Olympic medal.
Smirnov, however, remains modest and said: “In the last three years, Indian Army shooters have done extremely well at international competition.”