2018 Commonwealth Games: Manu Bhaker, Heena Sindhu to start India’s shooting campaign
Last month, young shooters Anish Bhanwala and Manu Bhaker were at Guadalajara, Mexico for the ISSF World Cup. Following a short break after their return home, they packed their bags again for Sydney where participated and won gold medals in the ISSF Junior World Cup, A few days later, they travelled to Gold Coast for the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
As the stage is set for competition in shooting to start on Sunday, one wonders how the shooters are coming with this constant travel through various time zones and competitions in between. For Anish, it was even more difficult because the 15-year-old had to take his school examinations between competitions.
And to compound their problems, the shooters have to make a long commute daily from the CWG Athletes Village near Griffith University to Belmont Shooting Range near Brisbane, a total distance of over 70km.
“It all comes down to planning and time management. You have to set your priorities and plan accordingly. The younger ones seems to manage that with less effort than the seniors,” said Raunak Pandit, who did it himself as a shooter and is now travelling with spouse Heena Sidhu, who is another strong medal hope for India.
Raunak, who is in Gold Coast as manager of the shooting team, said they did not practice for the first couple days after reaching Gold Coast in the last week of March but have had some good sessions since. “We gave some time to the shooters coming from India to get over the jet lag. For those that moved in from Sydney, there was no issue of time difference. Now everybody is ready and raring to go,”said Raunak.
India is expected to reap a rich haul at the Belmont Shooting Range but could face some tough challenge from hosts Australia, England and Singapore. “We are quite confident of our chances as we have a good squad of young and experienced shooters. We have prepared well and are in good form,” said Raunak.
So, first up for India will be young Manu Bhaker and the experienced Heena Sidhu in women’s 10m air pistol and Ravi Kumar and Deepak Kumar in men’s 10m air rifle. Going by current form and past record, India should win at least three medals on the opening day.
In skeet, Smit Singh and Sheeraz Sheikh will be competing in men’s section while Saniya Shaikh and Maheshwari Chauhan in women’s section.
With Manu Bhaker having done well both in Mexico and Sydney, she starts as the favourite in 10m air pistol. The teenage shooter bagged two gold medals in Mexico, thus at 15 becoming the youngest Indian to win a gold medal at the shooting world cup. She also won a double in Sydney and thus looks the shooter to beat. Heena, on the other hand, is quite experienced having won a silver in in individual and gold in pairs category of 10m air pistol at the 2010 edition in New Delhi.
If both of them get going, India could expect a gold-silver double in this section.
Overall, India expects a rich haul from shooting as the sport will be dropped for the next edition in 2022. They have selected a strong squad and hope to improve on the 17 medals they had bagged in shooting in 2014.