Indian shooters topped the medal tally at the recently-concluded ISSF World Cup in Cairo. The Indian contingent claimed seven medals, including four golds. It may be one of the many shooting World Cups in the calendar, but winning a medal here is still important.
Later this year in October, Egypt's capital will open doors to shooters for the 2024 Paris Olympics. It will host the ISSF World Shooting Championships, which is also an Olympic qualification event.
Anish Bhanwala, the 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medalist, contributed with two medals at the Cairo World Cup. The 19-year-old won his only gold in the 25m Rapid fire pistol mixed team event with Rhythm Sangwan.
In an exclusive interview with Sportskeeda, Anish said:
“I’ve won several medals in the Junior World Championship and World Cup. However, I have been participating in the senior ISSF World Cup since 2018. This was my 9th consecutive World Cup and I'm happy that I could win a medal at senior.”
Anish burst onto the scene by winning the 25m rapid fire pistol silver medal at the Commonwealth championship in Brisbane as a 14-year-old in 2017. He later won gold in the 2018 Commonwealth Gamesonwealth games. Since then, he has been touted as India’s next big shooter. But Anish had near misses at the senior World Cups after qualifying for the finals on three occasions.
“My performances was up & down in the senior circuit. I scored 577 (out of 600) in my first international tournament in Brisbane. At the 2019 Delhi World Cup, I shot 588 which is still a national record. I’ve shot 580+ on several occasions. So performances have improved, but yes, during the quota (Olympics) competition I couldn’t perform well. “
“To become a good shooter we need to improve technically a lot. The process of shooting has to evolve, and you build that with experience. Walking on the path of perfection is more important and that’s what I’ve done with time.”
Upon being asked how important it is to win a medal at the venue that will host the world championship later this year, he replied,
“It was first rifle & pistol competition in Cairo. Playing in this World Cup is important because you get an idea of the shooting range and the hall that will host the finals. During major competitions, we can train in the qualification hall. But it’s not always possible to train at the final’s hall. I’ve played two finals here and got an idea about light and atmosphere. This experience will be helpful during the world championship later this year.”
Also read: Ace pistol shooter Saurabh Chaudhary wins India’s first gold at Cairo World Cup
While most shooters participate in different events, Anish likes to focus on the 25m Rapid fire pistol event. As part of his rapid fire training, he shoots air pistols for an hour almost every day for better stability and trigger control.
“We have to shoot fast in rapid fire, so jerks happen to trigger. Air pistol training helps in rapid fire as we have to shoot four shots in 4 seconds. Shooting air pistol as part of my training but not as the main event. Mastering one event is more suitable.“
Indian shooters preparing for 2024 Paris Olympics
With less than two-and-a-half years left before the 2024 Paris Olympics, Anish likes to stick to his routine and is not in favor of major changes.
“It’s dream for every athlete to participate in the Olympics. No special training is needed now or before the Olympics. If you are shooting exceptionally well in every competition, you can perform the same at the Olympics."
"If you are changing your plans before the Olympics then it may have negative impact rather than positive. I don’t prefer changing coach at the last moment, especially VC Shooters going to mental trainers before Olympics. I like to follow the same process for major and minor competition."
After the Cairo World cup, Anish is expected to be part of the Indian shooting squad for the ISSF World Cup in Rio (Brazil), Baku (Azerbaijan), Changwon (S. Korea), Asian Games and World championship. Upon being asked about medal expectations, he replied:
“Self expectation of winning a medal is not good for the shooter. But preparations to win the medal should be up to the mark. My focus is completely on the process of winning the medal. I’ll try my best to perform at every tournament I compete”.