Shooting | Fearless Indians have Tokyo in their sights

The unflinching ability to hit the bull’s eye in finals has helped the squad dominate in recent years

India’s shooters have the onus of bagging a rich haul of medals in Tokyo, after having drawn a blank in Rio.

In recent years, they have gained in strength and consolidated their dominance, topping the medals table in a series of World Cups from 2019, especially in rifle and pistol, in awe-inspiring fashion.

Even in the last World Cup, when the medals were hard to come by for the Indian team that was training in Osijek, Croatia, Asian Games gold medallist Rahi Sarnobat delivered a resounding gold in 25-metre sports pistol.

It is her second Olympics after London 2012, and the 30-year-old Rahi has the maturity and the technical acumen to silence the world in the fascinating event that demands accuracy at high speed.

The strength of the current Indian squad is its ability to shoot high scores in qualification and unflinchingly hit the bull’s eye in the finals.

Staying in the moment

Gunning for gold: The Manu-Saurabh and Elavenil-Divyansh pairs will be keen to showcase their potential while Apurvi, centre, will be eager to fire. 

 

The youngsters, such as Manu Bhaker and Saurabh Chaudhary have no fear, as they stay in the moment and execute their technique, without allowing the pressure of expectations to weigh them down.

Manu has three chances to win medals in her maiden Olympics, while Saurabh has two. In the mixed event, introduced in this Olympics, they have been unbeatable, save for one instance, since 2019. In the shadow of Asian Games gold medallist Saurabh, lawyer Abhishek Verma has made remarkable progress. In 2019, Saurabh and Abhishek shared the gold in the four World Cups, two apiece.

Iranian Javad Foroughi has won two World Cup gold medals in air pistol this year to shift the focus away from the Indians breathing down his neck. The Chinese have stayed away from competition this season and could strike with a vengeance in the Olympics.

Apurvi Chandela and Elavenil Valarivan have been equally dominant in women’s air rifle, making the gold an Indian preserve in three World Cups and a World Cup Final. Both have not been that sharp this season, and that will make them hungry to be at their best in Tokyo.

Divyansh Singh Panwar had finished 2019 as World No. 1 along with Saurabh and Elavenil. He had won the mixed gold with Elavenil in the Delhi World Cup in March, apart from individual bronze.

Yashaswini Singh Deswal is World No. 1 in women’s air pistol and can make it lively with Abhishek in the mixed event as well.

 

World Championship silver medallist Anjum Moudgil, former World champion Tejaswini Sawant, two-time Olympian Sanjeev Rajput, Asian Games silver medallist Deepak Kumar and dynamic youngster Aishwary Pratap Singh Tomar, who won gold in the demanding rifle 3-position event in the Delhi World Cup, have the ability to rise to the occasion.

Asian champion Angad Vir Singh Bajwa has the final world record 60 out of 60 in skeet. Olympian Mairaj Ahmad Khan had narrowly missed the final in the Rio Games after shooting 121 out of 125.

In Tokyo, hope will spring every day when the Indian shooters are in action.

The squad

Men

10m Air Rifle: Divyansh Singh Panwar, Deepak Kumar. 10m Air Pistol: Saurabh Chaudhary, Abhishek Verma. 50m Rifle 3 Position: Sanjeev Rajput, Aishwary Pratap Singh Tomar. Skeet: Angad Vir Singh Bajwa, Mairaj Ahmad Khan

Women

10m Air Rifle: Apurvi Chandela, Elavenil Valarivan. 10m Air Pistol: Manu Bhaker, Yashaswini Singh Deswal. 25m Sports Pistol: Rahi Sarnobat, Manu Bhaker. 50m Rifle 3 Position: Anjum Moudgil, Tejaswini Sawant

10m Air Rifle Mixed Team: Divyansh Singh Panwar and Elavenil Valarivan, Deepak Kumar and Anjum Moudgil

10m Air Pistol Mixed Team: Saurabh Chaudhary and Manu Bhaker, Abhishek Verma and Yashaswini Singh D

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