India will have a record participation of at least 15 shooters at next year’s Olympics.
It was a very satisfactory showing for the nation’s shooter at the recently concluded 14th Asian Shooting Championship in Doha, Qatar as they bagged five more quota places to ensure that India will have a record of at least 15 participants at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
That will be three more than the 2016 Rio Olympics, with a few others potentially joining the fray based on ranking as the Games get closer.
Indian shooting has been on a meteoric rise in the past couple of years, with several young marksmen from the nation excelling at the highest level, winning titles at the ISSF World Cups, Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games. Here’s a look at how these shooters clinched their respective Olympic berths.
Anjum Moudgil was the first Indian athlete to make the cut for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo by taking a silver medal at the 2018 World Championships in Changwon, South Korea, the first qualification event for the Olympics.
Moudgil finished behind local star Hana Im with a score of 248.4 in the final of the women’s 10m Air Rifle to claim one of the four Olympic quota places. This will be her maiden appearance at the Olympic Games.
The current top-ranked shooter in the women’s air rifle category, Apurvi Chandela also made her mark at the same competition as Moudgil, as she finished in fourth place with a score of 207 in the women’s 10m Air Rifle final to pocket an Olympic berth.
Chandela’s success in South Korea meant that it was the first time that two of India’s shooters in the same category qualified for the Olympics at one competition. The 26-year-old participated in the 2016 Rio Games, where she finished in 34th place. So how much higher can she aim at Tokyo 2020?
The 17-year-old burst onto the scene at the 2018 Asian Games where nabbed a gold medal in the 10m Air Pistol. Since then, there’s been no stopping Saurabh Chaudhary who won his Olympic quota with a gold on home soil at the ISSF World Cup in New Delhi earlier this year.
The youngster has already won five gold medals at World Cups and also nabbed a silver at the recently concluded Asian Championship in Qatar.
The veteran shooter became the first Indian woman shooter to qualify for the Olympics in the 25m Air Pistol back in 2012. She missed the 2016 Games in Rio due to an injury but is expected to participate in Tokyo four years later after pocketing an Olympic berth at the ISSF Munich World Cup.
Sarnobat finished 19th at the 2012 London Games, but with an Asian Games gold medal under her belt now, will be optimistic of bettering that record at Tokyo.
The 30-year-old self described hobby shooter has really come into his this season, winning two ISSF World Cup gold medals and an Asian Championship bronze in the last 12 months. Verma clinched India’s second quota in the men’s Air Pistol with a gold medal at the ISSF World Cup in Beijing.
He followed that up with another gold a few months later at the Rio World Cup. Verma won gold in the mixed team event at the Asian Championship alongside Manu Bhaker and remains one of the nation’s main prospects heading into Tokyo 2020.
He may be 17, but Divyash Singh Panwar has taken the shooting fraternity by storm, winning a silver medal at the ISSF World Cup in Beijing earlier this year. The teenager has also won two ISSF World Cup gold medals in the Air Rifle mixed team with Moudgil.
Like Sarnobat, 17-year-old Manu Bhaker sealed her berth for the Olympics through the ISSF World Cup in Munich, where she finished fourth in the women’s 10m Air Pistol.
The youngster has been in splendid form, winning a gold at the recently concluded Asian Championship and is piped to continue her winning streak as the Olympic year draws closer.
While Bhaker was the first woman shooter to seal her berth in the 10m Air Pistol, 22-year-old Yashaswini Deswal followed suit soon after winning a gold medal at the ISSF World Cup in Rio.
The youngster continued her fine form at the Asian Championship, making it to the final. Apart from her individual plaudits, Deswal has shown great promise in the mixed team category, winning a silver in Doha while pairing up with Chaudhary.
The ISSF World Cup in Rio was of historic significance for India, as their shooting contingent bagged a record 22 medals at the competition, alongside sealing a few berths for the 2020 Olympics. Amongst the major beneficiaries in Rio was the men’s 50m Rifle 3 position shooter Sanjeev Rajput, who claimed the silver medal with a score of 462 in the final.
The veteran marksman participated in the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Games, but could not make it past the qualification round. Now with an Olympic berth sealed for a third time in his career, the reigning Commonwealth Games gold medallist will hope to buck that trend.
The veteran shooter started off India’s stellar show at the Asian Championship, as he claimed a bronze medal and an Olympic berth on the very first day of the competition. Deepak Kumar scored 227.8 in the final of the men’s 10m Air Rifle category to finish third on the podium behind China’s Liu Yukun and Yu Haonan respectively.
The 32-year-old won a silver medal at the 2018 Asian Games and if selected, is now slated to make his Olympic debut in Tokyo next year.
The young markswoman from Madhya Pradesh clinched an Olympic berth for the nation with a fine performance at the recently concluded Asian Championships.
Yadav’s triumph in Doha means that India will have maximum participation at the Tokyo 2020 for the women's 25m Air Pistol discipline, and will be optimistic on improving their showing from four years prior where the nation’s solitary participant Heena Sidhu finished in 20th position after qualification.
India are assured to have some participation in the women’s 50m rifle 3 position Air Rifle at Tokyo 2020 after Tejaswini Sawant pocketed a berth with a fourth placed finish at the Asian Championship. Sawant is a three-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist but will make her Olympic Games debut in 2020 if selected.
Another one of India’s young shooting prodigies, 18-year-old Aishwarya Singh Tomar became the nation’s 13th marksman to win a quota place after a third place finish at the Asian Championship.
The youngster’s bronze in Doha meant India will have maximum participation in the men’s 50m 3 position Rifle category, with Sanjeev Rajput winning the first quota earlier in the Rio World Cup.
India’s skeet shooters have had a difficult season on the whole, but that trend was put to bed at the Asian Championship in Doha, with the nation’s Angad Bajwa winning gold in the men’s skeet category.
The reigning Asian Shotgun Championships gold medallist will now be expected to make his Olympic debut come 2020.
There was further joy for India’s skeet shooters at the Asian Championship in Doha, as veteran Mairaj Khan clinched the silver medal to claim the second men’s skeet quota for the 2020 Tokyo Games. The 44-year-old participated in the 2016 Rio Games, where he finished in ninth position.