The 2021 Tokyo Olympics will be held from July 23 to August 8. After considerable uncertainty and a year-long delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the biggest sporting event on the planet will finally get underway.
With the aim of providing you with a comprehensive picture of where India stands going into this mega event, we are putting together a series of articles focusing on the country's prospects across a variety of disciplines.
This feature will focus on shooting, which has been India's most productive individual sport in the history of the Games. It gave India its first ever individual gold medallist in Abhinav Bindra at the 2012 Beijing Olympics. In total, India has won four Olympic medals for shooting, including one gold, two silver and one bronze.
In this year's competition, however, expectations from the Indian shooting contingent are sky high. The country's meteoric rise as a shooting powerhouse over the last couple of years makes it a hot favorite to bag the most gold medals at the upcoming 2021 Tokyo Olympics.
There are a total of 15 gold medals on offer in shooting, six each in men's and women's disciplines and three in mixed disciplines, with the latter being a nascent addition to the Games. India has earned quota spots in 11 of these 15 events (a total of 15 quotas). The details of the events and their Indian representation are listed below.
# | Shooting events | India's representation
1) 10m Air Rifle Men: Divyansh Singh Panwar & Deepak Kumar
3) 10m Air Pistol Men: Abhishek Verma & Saurabh Chaudhary
4) 10m Air Pistol Women: Manu Bhaker & Yashaswini Deswal
5) 25m Rapid Fire Pistol Men: None Qualified
6) 25m Pistol Women: Manu Bakher & Rahi Sarnobat
7) 50m Rifle 3 Position Men: Sanjeev Rajput & Aishwary Tomar
8) 50m Rifle 3 Position Women: Anjum Moudgil & Tejaswini Sawant
9) Skeet Men: Mairaj Ahmad Khan & Angad Bajwa
10) Skeet Women: None Qualified
11) Trap Men: None Qualified
12) Trap Women: None Qualified
13) 10m Air Rifle Mixed Teams: a) Divyansh Singh Panwar & Elavenil Valarivan
b) Deepak Kumar & Anjum Moudgil
14) 10m Air Pistol Mixed Teams: a) Abhishek Verma & Yashaswini Deswal
b) Manu Bhaker & Saurabh Chaudhary
15) Trap Mixed Team: None Qualified
India's Medal Hopefuls
The Indian contingent is full of champion shooters who have been dominating the international scene the last few years.
That puts India in good stead to win around 4-6 gold medals and here are the events which hold the most promise:
1) 10m Air Pistol Men
In this event, world No. 1 Abhishek Verma and world No. 2 Saurabh Chaudhary have been the two most dominant performers over the past two to three years, winning the lion's share of World Cup gold medals. So Indian fans will be especially disappointed if they still miss out on gold in this event. In fact, should both shooters be able to perform to their fullest potential, India could end up winning two medals in this event.
2) 10m Air Pistol Women
In this event as well, India has two standout performers in world No. 1 Yashaswini Deswal and No. 2 Manu Bhaker, both of whom will be favorites to win gold. If these two young shooters are able to hold their nerves and give their best performance, a 1-2 finish is a genuine possibility.
3) 10m Air Rifle Women
India have such a huge pool of talent for this event that both world No. 3 Anjum Moudgil (Olympic quota winner) and Asian Games medallist Mehuli Ghosh had to be left out. World No. 1 Elavenil Valarivan will be the favorite to win gold. Apurvi Chandeli, a former world champion and world No. 1, is the other Indian medal contender.
4) 10m Air Pistol Mixed Team
This is a new event and since its inception, it has been a gold mine for the Indian shooters. The two teams in this event are the obvious favorites and if they shoot well, a 1-2 finish is on the cards.
5) 10m Air Rifle Mixed Team
In this event as well, the two Indian teams in the fray are strong contenders for the gold medal. However, the Italian, Chinese, Hungarian and American teams will put up a tough fight.
In other pistol and rifle events, the 10m Air Rifle Men, 50m Rifle 3 Positions (Men and Women) and 25m Pistol Women, India will be represented by some of the top-ranked shooters. As a result, these events are also expected to produce medals and perhaps even gold wouldn't be too far out of reach.
The men's skeet event is the only outdoor shooting event where India has managed to qualify. However, winning a medal in this event will not be easy, as Mairaj Ahmad Khan and Angad Bajwa are not the best in the world. They will need to punch above their weight in order to secure a medal.
India's Medal Count Prediction from Shooting
India is likely to finish at the top of the medal tally in the shooting discipline in the Tokyo Olympics.