While the entire nation was engrossed in the routine IPL season like every year, the success of the Indian shooters in the recently concluded Beijing World Cup, created ripples worldwide. Topping the medal tally for the second time in a row, proves the fact that the Indian shooters aren’t just one tournament wonders and gone are the days of Chinese and Korean supremacy in this sport.
The brand new format is tough to crack because of the introduction of quarterfinal and semifinal matches as against the conventional single qualification round. In the medal matches, each series win credits to 2 points and the pair first to accomplish 16 points is awarded the tie.
The duo of Anjum - Divyansh were up against the highly proficient Chinese pair of Liu Ruxuan and Yang Haoran. With the noisy home crowd by their side, the Chinese pair were certainly the favourites. In what turned out to be an ‘edge of the seat’ thriller (17–15), the Indian pair held their nerve to win the gold medal. The equanimity showcased by the 16-year-old boy was just out of this world!
His performance in the individual event was outstanding too. He shot a score as high as 249.0 in the finals to clinch the silver medal. He was even in contention for the gold medal, which he eventually missed by a whisper - 0.4. "Feeling really proud to have won a quota for my country. I have gained experience from this final. It was very tough with proven shooters, Olympians in the fray," he said after the exhausting finale.
It was just another day at the office for the star duo of Manu and Saurabh - Carrying their rich vein of form and accomplishing a hattrick of gold medals - Delhi WC, Asian Air Gun Championship, Beijing WC. Though the final was pretty much one-sided, the road to it was quite topsy - turvy. They simply dominated their Chinese counterparts - former Olympic champion Pang Wei and World Cup finalist Jiang Ranxin.The lopsided scoreline of 16 - 6 is the testimony to it.
All said and done, the real find of the tournament was Abhishek Verma - a software engineer turned professional shooter. Relatively unknown at the international circuit, he staged an awe-inspiring comeback in the QF round. The final was simply a cakewalk for him - finishing a staggering 2.3 points clear of the silver medallist Chernousov Artem (RUS) to win India's third gold and a second quota place in the 10m Air Pistol. What stands out is his simplistic approach towards technique and zen like composure in testing times!
Failure of Heena Sidhu (former World number one) to make the cut in the finals of both the World Cup this year, indicates her lean patch of form and the same goes for the Asian Champion - Rahi Sarnobat. Old warhorse Ravi Kumar (rifle) is also not performing up to the expectations, though he can be excused on the account of being injured (a 3.5-inch deep infection kept him bedridden for the whole month of January). Ace shooters - Anjum and Apurvi, could have added at least one more medal to our tally after both of them stormed their way into the finals.
Seeing such young talent blossom and perform like world beaters, marks the onset of a really beautiful phase in the Indian shooting scene. Now, the world has started to draw inspiration from our athletes. Who could have imagined this scenario a decade ago? The appointment of the coaches like Pavel Smirnov (Pistol) and Oleg Mikhailov (Rifle) is definitely working wonders! But the most significant catalyst is the contribution of former champs like Gagan Narang and Jaspal Rana, who have selflessly devoted themselves in the quest of making India a shooting powerhouse. It's too early to predict the medal count in the Tokyo Olympic Games. But given the high morale and camaraderie within our camp, nothing seems to be impossible. But more importantly, hope that this juggernaut continues!Published 01 May 2019, 00:13 IST