Despite a few big names missing, a 28-member shooting contingent will be representing India at the Asian Games, starting 18 August. Olympic bronze medallist Gagan Narang, CWG gold medallist Jitu Rai, CWG silver medallist Mehuli Ghosh and even Shahzar Rizvi – who won two World Cup medals this season – will not be participating in the quadrennial event, which will be held in Indonesia this year.
At the Commonwealth Games in April, the Indian shooters won a total of 16 medals, and brought home 9 more from the last Asian Games in Incheon. Not only are the shooters training rigorously for the upcoming event, but also preparing for the all-important World Championship in South Korea, scheduled to start from 31 August.
Here are 5 Indian shooters to watch out for at the 2018 Asian Games.
Rapid Fire Pistol Mixed Team
Women’s Air Pistol
Women’s Sports Pistol
Just 2 years after she picked up the sport, 16-year-old Manu Bhaker made the world take notice when she bagged two gold medals at the 2018 ISSF World Cup – her first international tournament. The first gold came in the 10m air pistol individual category, and the second in the 10m air pistol mixed team category. She went on to clinch a gold at her maiden Commonwealth Games with a CWG record score of 240.9 in the women’s 10m air pistol category.
The Haryana shooter bettered that score at the ISSF Junior World Cup in June, bagging a gold in the 10m air pistol event with 242.5. This was her 7th individual gold in an International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) competition and the third with a world record.
Ahead of her first Asian Games, Bhaker said:
This will be my first Asiad. So I don’t know much about it but I know that there will be more countries as compared to the CWG. May be the competition level will be higher at the Asian Games.
Event: Women’s Air Pistol
She was the first Indian pistol shooter to win a gold medal in an ISSF World Cup final, clinched a bronze at the 2014 Asian Games in South Korea and also bagged gold in the 25m air pistol event at this year’s Gold Coast CWG. But at this year’s Asian Games, Heena Sidhu will be looking to win her first Asiad gold.
I can’t really say if I will deliver a gold or a silver medal at any competition. Yes, I do have the gold in my sight but I can’t guarantee it. I was also saying the same thing before going for the Commonwealth Games. My idea is always to deliver my best, rest we will see.Sidhu told Mail Today
At the CWG in April, the 28-year-old went from almost getting eliminated to winning a silver in the 10m air pistol event. In May, she secured the gold medal in the 10m air pistol category of the international shooting competition of Hannover.
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Event: Men’s Rapid Fire Pistol
Another young star in India’s shooting team at the 2018 Asian Games will be Anish Bhanwala. At just 15, the Haryana-born shooter created ripples by becoming the youngest Indian to win a Commonwealth Games gold medal. In his maiden CWG, he achieved the feat with a Games record score in the men’s 25m rapid fire pistol event.
Earlier in March, Anish won a gold medal in the 25m rapid fire pistol shooting event at the ISSF Junior World Cup held in Sydney. In the same month, he came seventh in the ISSF World Cup held in Mexico’s Guadalajara.
At the ISSF Junior World Cup in June, Bhanwala bagged a bronze in the men’s 25m rapid fire pistol. This was his fourth international medal of the year.
Air Rifle Mixed Team
Women’s Air Rifle
After finishing at a disappointing 34th among 51 participants and failing to enter the finals at the Rio Olympics, Apurvi Chandela entered the Gold Coast Games as the reigning champion in the 10m air rifle event.
Beating her own previous CWG record, Chandela set a new Games records of 423.2 to clinch the top spot in the qualifying stage of the 10m air rifle event. During the final round, she was in a great position to win a silver but two shots of 9.9 and 9.4 pushed her to the third place as she bagged a bronze with a total score of 225.3.
At the Munich World Cup in May, a misfire in the final round cost Apurvi a medal in the 10m air rifle event. Up until then, she had been leading with a 1.1 point advantage.
Women’s Sports Pistol
After clinching back-to-back golds at the 2010 Delhi and 2014 Glasgow CWG in the 25m pistol event, Rahi Sarnobat was forced to take a nearly year-long break from the range due to an elbow injury.
The competition (at the Games) is tough, but I think now the Indian women are very ready for that because in the last Asian Games (in 2014 in Incheon), I was in the final and we bagged a team bronze in 25 metre. The entire Indian team is hopeful of a good performance and even I am ready for that.Rahi Sarnobat
After finishing fourth in one of the two World Cups this year, the 27-year-old will be looking to register his first major win at the 2018 Asian Games, since making her comeback.
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