“If you ask people who know me very well, they will tell you, ‘Ky is a bit crazy’.” That was Kynan Chenai’s response when asked why he eats baby food during competitions. Baby food is easy to digest but protein-heavy and hence is preferred by athletes world over.
The response doesn’t provide even a hint of how serious this 23-year-old is about his shooting. Having secured the tenth Rio Olympics quota berth for India, the trap shooter had countless interactions with the media before the enormity of the task at hand sank in.
Kynan qualified for the final with a total of 120/125 after five rounds of qualifications, eventually finishing fourth. As he was the lone Indian in the fray, Kynan initially had to ensure he finished on the podium to be absolutely sure of a qualification berth.
His job got easier when the first set of eliminations ended, and after the semi-final shoot-off, both the Kazakhstan competitors, Andrey Mogilevskiy and Maxim Kolomoyets, were eliminated.
It left Kuwait’s Abdulrahman Al Faihan and Talal Alrashidi, and Chinese Taipei’s Kun-Pi Yang and Kynan in the fray. As Kuwait—shooting under the ISSF flag because the national Olympic committee is suspended – had already won a quota, the three available quotas were distributed to India, Kuwait and Chinese Taipei.
But getting the berth has brought him in direct competition with three-time Olympian and former World No 1, Manavjit Singh Sandhu, who was eliminated and failed to make it to the six-man final.
Whoever wins the Olympic trials and is in form will go to Rio. Asked whether Thursday’s results meant he has been thrust into limelight, he said: “You can say that once I have sealed my spot for the Olympics. But I am happy for this quota. This is the biggest achievement of my shooting career.”
The Hyderabad boy admitted that Thursday’s result gave him a fresh lease of life after a disastrous showing in the national championships in December. “I basically saved my season here. I did abysmally in the nationals (he shot 111/125) and knew I had to win a quota place to be back.” Funnily, the national gold was won by his father Darius.
“With the quota, I get to shoot the trials, and go to the World Cups, provided I shoot well in the trials. But I know what I have to do to get where I want to be.”
The third Indian in the fray, Prithviraj Tondaiman, too failed to qualify for the finals, fading away to finish with a total of 117.
No ticket for Vijay
In a big setback, London Olympics silver medallist Vijay Kumar failed to win a quota after he finished fifth in the 25 metre Rapid Fire event. Kumar had recovered well to finish first in the qualification rounds with a score of 576. He was in contention till the fourth series, joint fourth with Japan’s Eita Mori with 13 hits.
But a solitary hit in the fifth series ended his chance. The two available quotas went to Japanese Teruyoshi Akiyama, who won gold, and Eita Mori, who bagged bronze. Korea’s Yong Hoo Choi won silver, but his country had exhausted their share.
Vijay said: “I am shooting better than the last two years, today I was a bit unlucky. It is all good, I am young and from today, I will start to build up for the 2020 Olympics.”