By Vishesh Roy
New Delhi [India], July 20 (ANI): With three days to go for the Tokyo Olympics to get underway, athletes across the globe are looking to give finishing touch to their preparations for the showpiece event. The Indian contingent is no different as 127 athletes will look to give it their all and bring glory to the country. And the shooters in the contingent are expected to bring the most number of medals for the nation at the upcoming Games.
India will be fielding a 15-member shooting squad and this is the most number of athletes that the country has sent to the Games. There is a reason that shooting is being looked at as the best discipline for India to bring back medals as all the qualified shooters have given solid performances in the past two years.
The shooting qualification cycle for the Tokyo Olympics had begun way back in 2018 and ever since then, India’s shooters have consistently managed to reach the finals of world events. In 2019, Indian shooters were at the top of medal charts at all the four rifle/pistol World Cups with 30 medals which include 21 gold.
Earlier this year, the ISSF World Cup was played in New Delhi and India had a mixed bag of an event. The shooting contingent comprises mainly youngsters and this can be both a boon and a bane.
The advantage of this is that they will enter the Games without any baggage, however, there is one disadvantage that the shooters can buckle down to pressure as everyone in the country have their hopes resting on the shooting line-up.
Out of these 15, only four — Rahi Sarnobat (25m pistol), Apurvi Chandela (10m air rifle), Sanjeev Rajput (50m Rifle 3 Position), and Mairaj Ahmad Khan — have made an appearance at the Olympics before. Sarnobat enters the Olympics with solid form behind her as she returned with silver and gold at the two World Cups this year. Chaudhary is the same who has good form behind him and it is safe to say that both Sarnobat and Chaudhary are the favourites for India to win a medal at the Tokyo Games.
Saurabh Chaudhary (10m air pistol), Manu Bhaker, and Divyansh Singh Panwar (10 m air rifle) are the three athletes who have shown the most promise heading into the Olympics and these three are expected to come back with a medal. Elavenil Valarivan (10m air rifle) is also a dark horse in the upcoming Games. The 21-year-old did not win an Olympic quota in her event, but she was chosen for her good performance during the selection period.
The duo of Chaudhary and Bhaker will be competing in the mixed team event and they have displayed sensational form over the last few years. The duo has won five gold and one silver medal in their six World Cup mixed event finals so far.
Abhishek Verma and Yashaswini Singh Deswal are the world number one in their respective pistol categories and they can also be a possible medal prospect. Heading into the Games, the shooters do not have much game time behind them, but if it is any contingent that can bring back the most laurels for the country, it is definitely shooting.
India’s shooting contingent:
10m Air Rifle Men: Deepak Kumar, Divyansh Singh Panwar
10m Air Pistol Men: Saurabh Chaudhary, Abhishek Verma
50m Rifle 3 Positions Men: Sanjeev Rajput, Aishwary Pratap Singh Tomar
Skeet Men: Angad Vir Singh Bajwa, Mairaj Ahmad Khan
10m Air Rifle Women: Apurvi Chandela, Elavenil Valarivan.
50m Rifle 3 Positions Women: Anjum Moudgil, Tejaswini Sawant.
10m Air Pistol Women: Manu Bhaker, Yashaswini Singh Deswal.
25m Pistol Women: Manu Bhaker, Rahi Sarnobat.
10m Air Pistol Mixed Team: Divyansh Singh Panwar/ Elavenil Valarivan, Deepak Kumar/ Anjum Moudgil, Saurabh Chaudhary/ Manu Bhaker, Abhishek Verma/ Yashaswini Singh Deswal. (ANI)