Rifle shooters Sanjeev Rajput, Tejaswini Sawant bank on experience for Tokyo Olympics

Updated on Mar 26, 2021 10:25 PM IST

Rajput will compete in his third Olympics and Sawant in her first, but will get little time to acclimatise to conditions in Japan's capital.

Sanjeev Rajput and Tejaswini Sawant after winning the mixed team rifle 3 positions gold.(ISSF)
Sanjeev Rajput and Tejaswini Sawant after winning the mixed team rifle 3 positions gold.(ISSF)
ByAvishek Roy

As India’s young shooting brigade prepare for the Tokyo Olympics, the 40-year-old rifle competitors Sanjeev Rajput and Tejaswini Sawant stand apart.

On Friday, they teamed up to defeat their Ukraine rivals 31-29, winning the final of the mixed team rifle 3-positions, newly introduced by world body, ISSF. They had topped qualification in a 13-team field.

Both have Olympic quota places in rifle 3-positions. Rajput will compete in his third Games while Sawant—the 2010 world championships prone event gold medallist—aims to finally end her wait to shoot in an Olympics.

Unlike the 2012 London and 2008 Beijing Games where Rajput competed, he knows Tokyo will be different. They will go in without any knowledge about the range and conditions, crucial for rifle 3-positions. There is no clarity on an Olympic test event and shooters are due to reach Tokyo only a few days before competition.

“This will be a unique Olympics. There will be no spectators. An athlete will be allowed just five days before the event,” said Rajput, who shot well in windy conditions at the World Cup here. “I’ve been to two Olympics; we’ve stayed at the Olympic village from the second or third day of its opening—that is 14 days prior to the opening ceremony. The extra days (in 2008 and 2012) helped us acclimatise,” he said. “For Tokyo, I might get a ticket to enter the Village only on July 26-27.” His event is on August 2.

Experience could make the difference, said Sawant. “In 50m rifle 3-positions experience always matters. In Tokyo, it will be very important. You have to quickly gauge the conditions, the wind and adapt.”

Vijayveer wins silver

The men’s 25m rapid fire pistol final was important for India as Anish Bhanwala was chasing a quota spot on world ranking, if he won a medal. He reached the final but finished fifth among six qualifiers. Vijayveer Sidhu won silver, giving himself an outside chance to qualify for Tokyo.

The 18-year-old world championships gold medallist shot brilliantly to be tied with Peter Olesk of Estonia with 26 hits, but lost the shoot-off 3/4. Olesk won an Olympic quota. Vijayveer’s world ranking rose to seven, but a Tokyo berth will have to wait till the European Championships in May, and could depend on a few results going his way.

In trap, Kynan Chenai could have brightened chances for an Olympic quota with gold, but ended fourth. India won gold in the men's 50m rifle 3-position, beating USA 47-25.

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