Three Indian shooters who could be recommended for the Arjuna Award this year
- The Indian shooters, due to their consistent performances, will be the brightest medal prospects at the Tokyo Olympics.
- Let us have a look at 3 such shooters who would be the frontrunners for the Arjuna Award this year.
The Arjuna Award is the 2nd highest sporting honor bestowed by the Government of India, next only to the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna. The awards are a recognition of the accomplishments of all Indian sportspersons across various sporting disciplines over the last 4 years and, more specifically, in the last year.
The award winners are felicitated by the President on the occasion of National Sports Day, the 29th of August, every year and are chosen by a panel of experts formed by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports.
In the year 2019, the Arjuna awards were bestowed upon 19 sportspersons across multiple sports including Anjum Moudgil for shooting. For the record, a total of 46 shooters have received the Arjuna award till the year 2019 with Karni Singh being the first shooter to receive the award in the year 1961.
Indian shooters have been in prime form last year and finished on top of the medal charts across the various International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cups in 2019, bagging a total of 21 gold medals. The Indian shooting contingent has also secured a record total of 15 quota places for the Tokyo Olympics. Although the Olympics have been postponed to the summer of 2021, shooting will be the biggest medal hope for India at the quadrennial sporting extravaganza considering the exemplary form displayed by the shooters in the recent past.
Let us have a look at three of these outstanding shooters who could be recommended by the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) for the Arjuna award for the year 2020.
#3 Divyansh Singh Panwar
Divyansh Singh Panwar had an excellent breakthrough year in 2019 in the men’s 10m air rifle and mixed team air rifle events. Overall, he won 6 medals in the shooting World Cups in the last year with 4 of them being Gold medals. This included a Gold medal he won at the prestigious ISSF World Cup Final in Putian, China.
The 10m air rifle event has always been regarded as one of India's strongest shooting events with the likes of Abhinav Bindra and Gagan Narang bagging Olympic medals in this discipline. Panwar, who has already qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, will be hoping to carry on this great legacy and bag a medal for India in this event at the Games to be held next year.
He will definitely be a medal hope in the mixed team air rifle event as well, which has been added to the upcoming Olympics, considering the strength of the Indian women's 10m air rifle squad.
#2 Manu Bhaker
Manu Bhaker has set the Indian shooting world alight ever since her arrival on the scene. The 10m air pistol is her pet event although she takes part in the 25m pistol event as well.
She started her great run at the international level in 2018 by bagging 2 gold medals at the ISSF World Cup in Guadalajara, Mexico, thereby becoming the youngest Indian shooter to bag a gold medal in a World Cup. This was followed by a gold medal-winning effort in the Commonwealth Games 2018, setting a new Commonwealth Games record in the process.
But the icing on the cake was the 2 medals, including a gold medal, that she bagged at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires. This earned her the distinction of becoming the first Indian shooter and the first Indian female athlete to win a gold medal at the Youth Olympics.
Manu continued her upward journey in 2019 by bagging 5 medals in various shooting World Cups with all of them being gold medals. The 2 gold medals that she won in the 2019 Asian Shooting Championship added to her growing prowess.
With such consistent performances over the last couple of years, she would be one of the most likely candidates to be recommended for the Arjuna Award this year and would also be one of the biggest medal hopefuls at the Olympics next year both in the women's 10m air pistol and 10m air pistol mixed team events.
#1 Saurabh Chaudhary
Saurabh Chaudhary has been the most consistent Indian shooter over the last couple of years. Starting with outstanding performances at the junior level, he transitioned seamlessly to the senior level and has kept the Indian flag flying high in the 10m men's air pistol and mixed team air pistol events.
Starting with a silver medal at the junior level in the 2016 Asian Airgun Championships, he followed it up with 4 gold medals in the Asian Championships between 2017 and 2019. In 2018, he bagged 2 gold medals at the ISSF Junior World Cup and 2 medals, including a gold medal at the ISSF World Shooting Championships at the junior level.
But his biggest accomplishments in 2018 were bagging a gold medal at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games and a gold medal in the Asian Games 2018 at the senior level. This earned him the distinction of becoming the youngest Indian shooter to win a gold medal at the Asian Games.
Chaudhary continued this domination at the senior level in 2019 by bagging 7 medals in the shooting World Cups with 6 of them being gold medals. Apart from that, he also won a Gold medal in the Asian Airgun Championship and 2 silvers in the Asian Shooting Championship.
With such consistent performances over the last few years, he will be one of the frontrunners for the Arjuna Award this year. More importantly, the whole of India would be hoping that he would be able to bag a couple of medals at next year's Olympics in the 10m men's air pistol and mixed team air pistol events.