India's shooting journey at the Summer Olympics has been a slow and steady one.
India is now ranked in the top 5 positions at the Shooting World Cups. It has become the fastest-growing nation in shooting sports. Where India stands today is due to the hard work and determination of many Indian shooters over the years.
A nation or an athlete gains the spotlight at International events when they win a medal or give an exceptional performance. Here are India's first-ever medalists across shooting disciplines at the Summer Olympics.
First-ever Indian to reach Olympic Finals
2000 - Anjali Bhagwat (10m Rifle)
Anjali Bhagwat was the first Indian shooter to reach the Olympic Finals. In 2000, Anjali played at her maiden Olympics in Sydney and became the first Indian female shooter to qualify for the Olympics. She paved the way for Indian women shooters.
She ranked at the 7th position in the qualification round, beating other international shooters. Anjali is an inspiration for not just Indian women but all shooters in India. She's a three-time Olympian and also a former ranked world number one 10m Air Rifle shooter.
First-ever shooting medal at the Olympics
2004 - Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore (Double Trap)
In 2004 at the Athens Summer Olympics, India secured its first Olympic medal in shooting. Double Trap shooter Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore achieved the 2nd position with a 179/200 score in the double trap finals. He also brought home India's first individual silver medal at the Olympics and the first medal in the double trap event.
It was due to his perfect aim at the Olympics, there was a rise in shooting sports in India. He is the one who set the benchmark for the young shooters in the country.
First-ever gold medal at the Olympics
2008 - Abhinav Bindra (10m Air Rifle)
In the 2008 Summer Olympics, shooting legend Abhinav Bindra stole the show by winning the first Olympic gold for India. He became the only Indian athlete to win an individual Olympic gold medal till date. It was also India's first medal in the Rifle Category.
Abhinav Bindra is a five-time Olympian and is idealized by many young shooters in India.
First-ever medal in Pistol event at Olympics
2012 - Vijay Kumar(25m Rapid Fire Pistol)
Vijay Kumar clinched the first-ever Olympic medal for India in the pistol event. He hit the bull's eye at the 2012 Olympics and secured the second position, bringing home the silver medal. It was the opening medal for pistol shooting in India. His performance encouraged pistol shooters in India.
These Indian shooters are the architects of the Indian shooting scene. Their performances are written in bold letters in Indian Shooting history. The Indian Shooting contingent for the Tokyo Olympics will hopefully take forward the legacy set up by their seniors.