Olympics: India hope to get lion's share from the ranges
London - Indian shooters will be looking to improve their Beijing Games performance when they start their London Olympics campaign at the Royal Artillery Barracks here on Saturday.
Since missing the last Olympics, where he was a double world record holder and World No.5, Sodhi has established himself as one of the top shooters in the world. He has also filled the shoes of his fellow double trap shooter Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, who won the historic silver medal at Athens in 2004.
Sodhi, who will be making his Olympic debut, will surely be the one to watch out for. He has won two gold, a silver and a bronze in various World Cup championships besides two silver at the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games and a gold at the 2010 Asian Games.
It won’t be a cakewalk for Sodhi as he will get stiff competition from top marksmen like defending champion Walton Eller and Joshua Richmond of the US and Beijing Games bronze medallist Hu Binyuan of China.
“I am feeling quite excited and thrilled. There is no pressure, but there is this responsibility…that people believe in my abilities. I feel excited and thrilled about it,” said Sodhi.
In the 10-metre air rifle, one cannot rule out the golden boy of Indian shooting. His historic gold at Beijing inspired the next generation of Indian shooters.
Bindra has nothing to lose in London and that makes him a strong favourite to win a medal.
However, it will not be an easy task for him as he faces tough competition from compatriot Narang, who narrowly missed out on the final round in Beijing on a count-back. They have shared a healthy rivalry and that may just bring the best out of the both here at the Games.
Veterans Zhu Qinan of China and Hungarian Peter Sidi are some of the top names, who can pose a serious threat for Bindra.
The first day’s spotlight will be on pistol shooter Vijay Kumar, who will be the first of the 11 Indian shooters to take the range in the 10-metre air pistol event Saturday, a day after the opening ceremony.
The army man is riding high on confidence having won a gold in the Asian Shooting Championship in Doha this year in the standard pistol event.
But air pistol event in Olympics will be a tough nut to crack for Vijay, who had won three gold and one silver medal in the Commonwealth Games. He had won two bronze at the Guangzhou Asian Games and two silver medals in the last three years at the World Cups.
In the women’s section, young pistol shooters Heena Sidhu and Annuraj Singh will start their campaign Sunday in the 10-metre air pistol event.
But the D-day for Indian shooting will be Monday when Bindra and Narang will fight it out for a medal in their pet event, 10-metre air rifle.
Former World Champion and ex-World No.1 trap shooter Manavjit Singh Sandhu will also be looking forward to his maiden Olympic medal August 5.
Woman trap shooter Shagun Choudhary, riflemen Sanjeev Rajput, Joydeep Karmakar, and pistol shooter Rahi Sarnobat are also capable of producing good scores but it is to be seen whether they are good enough to bag an Olympic medal.
Abhinav Bindra (10m air rifle)
Gagan Narang (10m air rifle, 50m rifle prone, 50m rifle 3 positions)
Joydeep Karmakar (50m rifle prone)
Vijay Kumar (10m air pistol and 25m rapid fire)
Sanjeev Rajput (50m rifle 3 position)
Manavjit Singh Sandhu (trap)
Ronjan Sodhi (Double trap)
Shagun Chowdhary (trap)
Rahi Sarnobat (25m pistol)
Annuraj Singh (10m air pistol)
Heena Sidhu (10m air pistol)Published 27 Jul 2012, 18:21 IST