Asian Games 2018: Heena Sidhu, Manu Bhaker lead title hopes for India in shooting
India has won a total of 49 shooting medals at the Asian Games, including seven gold medals. In 2014, however, there was only one gold in a total of nine medals that the country won in the sport.Updated: Aug 14, 2018 09:58 IST
Over the last couple of decades, India has sent strong medal contenders in the shooting events of the Asian Games. The country has won a total of 49 shooting medals at the Asiad, including seven gold medals. In Incheon, however, there was only one gold in a total of nine medals that the country won in the sport.
Moreover, Indian shooting prospects at the Jakarta Palembang Asian Games were dealt a big blow earlier this year when the organisers decided to drop some events from the bloated competition. The discontinued events include men’s 25m centre fire pistol (individual and team, men’s 10m air rifle (team), women’s 25m pistol (team), women’s trap (team), and women’s double trap (team) among a host of others.
Jitu Rai, the only Indian gold medallist from four years ago failed to make the cut this year, but India still has a strong shooting contingent for Palembang.
The 16-year-old Manu Bhaker created sensation earlier this year by becoming the youngest Indian to win a shooting World Cup with her gold in the 10m air pistol win. She won the mixed team event with Om Prakash Mitharwal to come home as a two-time world champion. Her purple patch continued through to the Commonwealth Games where she added the individual gold in 10m air pistol in Gold Coast.
Bhaker will compete in three events—10m air pistol (with Heena Sidhu), 25m air pistol (with Rahi Sarnobat) and mixed air pistol (with Abhishek Verma) at the Asian Games. More medals in Palembang will burnish her reputation further and establish her amongst the biggest Indian medal prospects at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Apart from Bhaker there are other exciting young guns in fray. Anish Bhanwala is just 15 and is the reigning junior 25m rapid fire pistol world champion. The 19-year-old Elavenil Valarivan won gold in 10m air rifle in the 2018 ISSF Junior World Cup in Sydney earlier this year and the duo will now look to build their reputations at the senior level.
London Olympics medallists Gagan Narang and Vijay Kumar failed to make the squad for Palembang. However, veteran shooter Manavjit Singh Sandhu will compete in the trap event and will look to add to his haul of four silver and a solitary bronze medal at the Asiad.
Other Indian shooting contenders include Anjum Moudgil who has also been in good form this year with silver medals in the World Cup as well as the Commonwealth Games in women’s 50m rifle 3 positions, and the 50m rifle 3 positions champion Commonwealth Games champion Sanjeev Rajput.
Shreyasi Singh and Varsha Varman will look to add to their bronze medals from four years ago. There will also be the likes of Ravi Kumar, Deepak Kumar, Ankur Mittal, and Apurvi Chandela among others vying for a podium finish.
The Indian contingent has the potential to come home with a decent medal haul from the shooting ranges of Palembang. However, most eyes back home will be on the young guns, hoping they continue to impress against strong competition.
First Published: Aug 13, 2018 16:57 IST