Rio Olympics 2016: Analysing Ayonika Paul's chances of a medal
23-year old Ayonika Paul’s rise to the international shooting circuit began in the year 2007 when she started representing India at the Junior level tournaments. The shooter hails from the financial capital of India, Mumbai and made waves in the shooting world at a young age, representing India internationally at only the age of 14.
Apart from shooting, Paul has also been involved in basketball, water-polo, skating and swimming. The shooter has, however, been a very bright student and is currently pursuing engineering from Mumbai itself.
Starting at the 2007 Asian Championship in Kuwait where she finished 11th in the 10m air rifle event. She announced herself at the international stage when she won the gold medal in the 2008 International Junior Shooting Competition in Munich. Again, at the age of just 18, Ayonika won the bronze medal in the same event at the 2011 Asian Championships held in Kuwait City. Since the 2009 season, the young shooter has been participating consistently in all the ISSF World Cups.
Since 2010, Ayonika has been participating in a minimum of three ISSF events every year. The most events she has participated in was in 2014 when she represented the nation at seven different events – four ISSF World Cups, one ISSF World Championship, one Asian Championship and one Asian Games. This helped the shooter in getting much-needed experience under her belt going into the qualifying phases of the Rio Olympics.
Ayonika’s achievements in major tournaments so far:
Gold – 2008 International Junior Shooting Competition, Munich.
Bronze – 2011 Asian Championships, Kuwait City.
Bronze – 2014 ISSF World Cup, Maribor.
Silver – 2014 Commonwealth Games, Glasgow.
Bronze – 2015 Asian Championships, New Delhi.
Her form, however, dipped in 2015 as she only managed to get a best finish of 18th in the ISSF World Cup held in Munich. The shooter, however, won the bronze medal in the 2015 Asian Championships held in New Delhi.
Ayonika booked her spot at the Rio Olympics when she competed in the Asia Olympic Qualifying Competition as she bagged the silver medal in the women’s 10m air rifle. It will be the first Olympic Games for the youngster.
But her journey towards winning an Olympic gold will be tough. She is joined by her compatriot Apurvi Chandela in the 10m air rifle event in Rio. However, the main concern for Ayonika will be her form going into the tournament. She has been coaching under Olympian Suma Shirur to get the best results at Rio. She has been supported by the Olympic Gold Quest (OGQ), a non-government organisation who are providing her with a sports psychologist and a world-class physiotherapist to help her get a medal at Rio 2016.
Ayonika will be facing tough competition in the 10m air rifle event as it has some of the best women shooters from around the world. The 2015 ISSF World Cup Finals’ winner in the 10m air rifle, Andrea Arsovic, will be looking to create an impact at the Games.
Meanwhile, the Indian will also have to compete with the likes of Ukraine’s, Olena Kostevych, Chinese pair of Yi Siling and Du Li. The Indian shooters have been expecting windy conditions at the Rio Shooting range as winter is about to start in the South American country.
It is highly unlikely for the youngster to get to the podium with the presence of all the foreign shooters. But Ayonika will be looking to find her form of 2014 to finally grab her maiden gold medal in a senior international competition.