Dubai: Former Olympic medallist Josh Lakatos bemoaned the stagnation in shooting standards in the UAE.
"Nothing seems to have changed here from the last time," Lakatos told Gulf News.
Lakatos won the silver medal in trap behind Australian Michael Diamond at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996. After that, he captured several gold medals at ISSF World Cups, making his one of the memorable names in trap shooting.
A couple of weeks back, he accepted an invitation to coach the UAE's double trap gold medallist Shaikh Ahmad Mohammad Hasher Al Maktoum.
"I have not been doing anything in particular, hence I decided to come over and be the coach for my friend," Lakatos added.
During his shooting career, Lakatos, who has made a few visits to the UAE when he was actively pursuing the sport, said: "I find that nothing has changed since the first time I came here."
Lakatos added that he was surprised the sport has not made much progress in the UAE, despite winning a gold in Olympics.
Lack of accountability
"In any other country the sport would have become so popular riding the wave of a gold medal at the Olympics. But that doesn't seem to have happened in this country," he said.
When asked what could be the likely cause for the sport's state of affairs, the American shooter observed: "I don't know if it is a question of egos here. I find very few professional shooters, but there are hoards of recreational shooters here."
Elaborating, Lakatos wondered if it was also a question of accountability that was responsible for the sport suffering.
"The shooters have no accountability for anything, sometimes not even to themselves," he said.
Despite this, Lakatos said he felt that there was so much of natural shooting talent in the UAE. "These guys have everything to be champions," Lakatos observed.
Narrowing down on possible causes, Lakatos felt that UAE shooters should have cashed in on Shaikh Ahmad's gold medal at the Athens Olympics.
"Instead of embracing someone like Ahmad they have tried to keep him away. The authorities say they want to do something and end up doing barely anything for the uplifting of the sport," he observed while saying that this is not how a professional sport works.
Giving his own experience as a professional shooter, Lakatos stressed how important winning was. "If I didn't win then I stood to lose my sponsors or my place in the team," he said.
"But there is no such pressure on the shooters here and it is unlikely that they will understand how the system works for a professional," he added.
In any other country the sport would have become so popular riding the wave of a gold medal at the Olympics. But that doesn't seem to have happened in this country."