In a country that has seen cricket dominate the sporting headlines for several years, orther sports have found it difficult to attian as much recognition and hence dont find as many followeers. But if along with Badminton, there is one sport that has had an increase in fan base over the last few years, it is shooting.
With the likes of Jitu Rai and Heena Sidhu at present and Anjali Bhagwat and Manavjit Singh Sandhu, performing spectacularly well on the world stage in the years gone by, shooting has defeinitely found viewers in India.
Here’s a list of the Top 10 Indian shooters of all time:
An inspiration for several aspiring shooters, Abhinav Bindra’s journey as a top-notch shooter began at a very early age of 15, when he became the youngest participant at the 1998 Commonwealth Games, that were held in Kuala Lumpur. After a disappointing maiden Olympics, in Sydney in 2000, he first tasted success on the global stage at the 2001 Munich World Cup, when he fired a score a 597/600 to clinch the bronze medal in the 10m Air Rifle category. That score was also the new junior world record at the time.
He continued his impressive showing the following year, at the Commonwealth Games, that were held in Manchester, winning the silver in the 10m Air Rifle Singles category and clinching the bronze in the 10m Air Rifle pairs category. Despite entering the 2004 Athens Olympics in good form, the 32-year-old once again failed to raise his game on the big stage and finished at a shattering seventh in the finals, despite finishing in third at the qualification stage.
However, every champion has a turning point in his career and Bindra too had one in 2006, when he clinched Gold at the 2006 ISSF World Cup, held in Zagreb in Croatia and also bettered his performance from Manchester to Melbourne at the 2006 Commonwealth Games, where he won Gold in the 10m Air Rifle pairs category and a bronze in Singles category of the same event.
But possibly Abhinav’s greatest achievement came 48 months later in 2008, when on August 11th, he clinched the Gold medal in the 10m Air Rifle event at the Beijing Olympics, thereby becoming the country’s first individual gold medalist at the Summer Games.
Two years later, he added another feather to his cap, when he led the Indian contingent out at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi and then went on win Gold in the 10m Air Rifle Pairs category.
After his stellar performance in 2008, much was expected out of him at the 2012 London Olympics but unfortunately, he didn't have the best of times at the Games, failing to go past the qualification round. But he returned with a vengeance 2 years later, where, a day after announcing this would his final Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, he clinched the Gold in the 10m Air Rifle event.
Abhinav has also been a recipient of many prestigious awards, including the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna in 2001 and with Rio 2016, expected to be his Olympic swansong, one can expect him to put forth a strong show and hopefully clinch another medal before bidding adieu.
2.Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore
Colonel Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore first tasted success for India at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, where he won Gold in the both the individual and pairs category of the Double Trap event. He then went on to secure a bronze in the 2003 Shotgun Championships in Cyprus.
But probably his most memorable achievement as a shooter came the following year at the 2004 Athens Olympics, where he won a silver medal in the Double Trap event, which also turned to be India’s only medal in the Games. He was awarded the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna in 2004 for his silver medal-winning feat.
Two years later at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, he won Gold in the individual category of the Double Trap event and silver in the pairs category of the same event and carried that form into the 2006 Asian Games in Doha, clinching the silver in Double Trap teams category and bronze in the individual category.
The 45-year-old also enjoyed a great time at the Asian Clay Target Championships, where he won 4 Gold medals and between 2002 and 2006, won a total of 25 International medals at various Double Trap championships.
Following his voluntary retirement from the Indian Army in 2013, he joined the Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP) and was sworn-in as the Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting last year.