Rio Olympics 2016: Analysing Manavjit Singh Sandhu's medal chances at Rio
Can the decorated trap shooter achieve something in Rio that has eluded him the past three times?
Manavjit Singh Sandhu is one of the most decorated trap shooters in the world. He specialises in trap shooting and Rio will be his fourth Olympics. Qualifying for the Olympics for a fourth consecutive time at the age of 40 does indicate the level of consistency Manavjit has had over the course of the last 16 years.
He started his professional international career in 1995 when he finished 44th in the trap shooting event at the Asian Championships held in Chengdu City. Since then, the experienced shooter has participated in 94 international events (as per the ISSF records) during his career. He has worked hard to win gold medals in various competitions but is yet to taste gold at the Asian and the Olympic Games.
Ever since his early days as a kid, Manavjit was inspired by his father who was also an Olympian for India. Watching his father train and shoot for India had inspired Sandhu to take up the sport. Manavjit’s achievements in the last 20 years of his career have made the nation proud. But the shooter will look to add one more medal to his tally to maybe finish off his career in the right manner at Rio.
Trap shooting is a form of shooting that very few Indians choose but Manavjit has done well throughout his long career. He is the only Indian shooter to have been ranked number one in the world back in 2006.
However, his form dipped afterwards but going into Rio, the shooter looks confident and set to make his mark. However, it is not just the shooting training that can help him. It is also the mental and psychological conditioning that helps shooters like Sandhu prepare for the big events.
Sandhu first tasted success internationally when he won a gold medal in the trap shooting team event at the 1998 Commonwealth Games held in Kuala Lumpur. But the most satisfying period of his career came after 8 years when he won major tournaments in 2006.
He won the gold medal at the ISSF World Shooting Championships in Zagreb along with a silver medal in the team event. In the same year, he also went on to win a silver and bronze medal at the ISSF World Cup in Kerrville and at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne respectively.
Manavjit Singh Sandhu’s major achievements so far:
Gold – 1998 Commonwealth Games, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Gold – 2006 ISSF World Shooting Championships, Zagreb, Croatia.
Gold – 2010 ISSF World Cup, Acapulco.
Gold – 2014 ISSF World Cup, Tucson.
Silver – 1998 Asian Games, Bangkok.
Silver – 2002 Asian Games, Busan.
Silver – 2006 Asian Games, Doha.
Silver – 2006 ISSF World Cup, Kerrville.
Silver – 2006 ISSF World Shooting Championships, Zagreb, Croatia.
The former world number one would go on to grab two more medals that year – two silver medals at the Doha Asian Games in trap individual and team events. His journey ever since has been a roller-coaster ride.
Sandhu has not been consistent enough to be able to qualify as the favorite for Rio but the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) deemed him as the better option ahead of two-time Olympian Sanjeev Rajput.
In recent years, Sandhu has won two major medals – a gold medal at the 2014 ISSF World Cup in Tucson and a bronze medal at the 2015 ISSF World Cup held in Acapulco. He will have tough competition from the likes of Spain’s Alberto Fernandez, Slovakia’s Erik Varga and Czech Republic’s Jiri Liptak – all of whom are currently ranked in the top-3. Sandhu will also have to deal with fellow Indian Kynan Chenai in the trap event.
Sandhu has been plying his trade at the highest level for 21 years now and it is high time for him to win an Olympic gold medal. Even after having achieved so much during his career, Sandhu’s credentials (to be remembered as one of the greatest Indian shooters of all time) depend on his performance in Rio.
Therefore, when the time comes, he must be prepared to use his experience and shoot the bull’s eye in Rio. He will have to remember that it might be his fourth and last Olympic Games, he will have to be prepared to give his best when he takes on the other world beaters who block his path towards glory.