India boasts of an unparalleled sporting dynasty in shooting that looks like it will be enhanced at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. Last month, the country produced its best-ever medal haul in an ISSF Shooting World Cup, topping the table with 30 medals overall.
With this achievement, India registered its sixth successive first-place finish in rifle and pistol ISSF competitions. Topping medal tallies at Shooting World Cups since 2019, Indian shooting has consistently been lifted to lofty standards on the global stage.
The decade gone by has brought about a revolution in Indian shooting, which has taken the sport to unprecedented heights. From Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore's silver in Athens to Abhinav Bindra's gold in Beijing, India's success rate at the Olympics has inspired a new legion of shooting stars.
With role models like Rathore and Bindra, the conveyor belt of shooting talent in the country shows no signs of slowing down.
Pistol shooters Manu Bhaker and Saurabh Chaudhary are among a new crop of shooters who are re-igniting India's hopes for a podium finish at the Tokyo Olympics. It is this backdrop that should stand the Indian shooting juggernaut in good stead ahead of the quadrennial event.
India has bagged the highest number of Olympic quotas in the discipline this year. Both Manu and Saurabh have the experience and pedigree to be counted as favorites in Tokyo. Individual events aside, the duo have forged a formidable pairing in the 10m Air Pistol mixed team event.
Manu Bhaker will be a strong contender across three events at Tokyo Olympics
Currently ranked second in the world, pistol ace Manu has outclassed the biggest names in the sport. Having secured two medals at the World Cup this year, she looks set to turn a new leaf at the Tokyo Olympics.
She will have a shot at earning medals across three events, including women's 10m Air Pistol, women's 25m Pistol, and 10m Air Pistol mixed team events. She is only the second Indian to compete in three different events at a single edition of the Olympics.
Her participation across multiple events will heighten India's medal chances at the Tokyo Olympics. She will also be in the race to become India's most successful athlete at her first Olympics.
Saurabh Chaudhary's quest for his maiden Olympic glory in Tokyo
The country has one of the most promising shooters in 18-year-old Saurabh Chaudhary beyond doubt. Having scaled many a peak in his short but illustrious career, Saurabh holds the potential to carve a bright career at the highest level.
Having smashed his own world record a number of times, the 2018 Asian Games gold medalist has underlined his position as one of the greatest shooters India has ever produced. He is so far the only Indian shooter to win gold in five competitions, including the World Championships, World Cup, Youth Olympic Games, Asian Games and Asian Air Gun Championships.
Looking at his seamless upward career trajectory, Saurabh will enter Tokyo as the firm favorite to become the youngest Olympic champion. Apart from his pet event (10m Air Pistol), Saurabh will have a real shot at another podium finish in the mixed pistol event alongside Manu.