Despite setback, shooter Bhanwala keeps Olympic hopes alive
Currently ranked 12th in 25m rapid fire, national pistol coach Samresh Jung says Bhanwala has a bright chance (of bagging an Olympic quota) but will have to wait.Updated: Jun 03, 2020 08:36 IST
It’s an agonising wait but 18-year-old pistol marksman from Haryana, Anish Bhanwala, is determined to earn a Tokyo quota place allotted by the international shooting federation (ISSF) to shooters as per the global ranking in an event where the national federation hasn’t got a quota place during the Olympic qualifying cycle. Currently ranked 12th in 25m rapid fire, national pistol coach Samresh Jung says Bhanwala has a bright chance (of bagging an Olympic quota) but will have to wait. “They (ISSF) will make an official announcement on May 31, 2021, which is the new deadline for announcing the quota,” said Jung.
A disappointed Bhanwala said, “I will have to wait for another year before I actually get to know my fate,” he said.
The original date for allotment of individual quota was May 31 this year but was deferred because of the Covid-19 pandemic. “It could have been a big day in my life... it’s painful to wait so long now. Sometimes I lose my patience but then think it’s a global issue and put my head down to work hard to achieve good results next year,” he added.
The last seven months have been mentally taxing for the teenage shooter who won the 25m gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
He was close to sealing a berth for the now postponed Tokyo Olympics during the Asian Championships at Doha in November, but finished 11th with a score of 574/ 600. The 10th-place shooter got one of the four quotas on offer. Bhanwala holds the national record of 588/ 600 set during the 2019 World Cup in New Delhi.
“I lost my rhythm in the last 10 shots of the competition (in Doha) and was out of the race. It was a big disappointment,” he recalls of missing the opportunity in the 2019 Olympic qualifying cycle. It was also the last chance for shooters from Asia to make the cut for the Olympics.
Fortunately, Bhanwala’s steady performance during the 2019 season brightened his chances of earning an individual quota, allotted as per ISSF ranking to athlete in an event where the national federation hasn’t earned a quota place during the Olympic qualifying cycle. Individual quota is given to a specific athlete and cannot be changed, while quota places won during the Olympic cycle are for the country.
Though India has won 15 quota places in rifle, pistol and shotgun (skeet), the men’s 25m rapid fire quota has eluded them. India’s Vijay Kumar had won the rapid fire silver during the 2012 London Games.
Bhanwala’s main focus at the start of the 2020 season was the World Cup in Delhi in March. “It was another bright chance to improve my global ranking but the event got cancelled. It just makes me determined to keep on training,” he added.
Since the nationwide lockdown in March, Bhanwala hasn’t been able to train at the Karni Singh Ranges in Delhi as the facility is closed. “I’m doing dry training for two hours each day on a makeshift range at home. I’m also training in air pistol,” he said.