When the Tokyo Olympics rolls around in July 2021, the Indian shooters’ are likely to have the biggest contingent with as many as 15 spots nailed down, three more than the number they sent to Rio 2016.
The Indian shooters represent some of the biggest medal hopes at the Tokyo Olympics and Apurvi Chandela will be one of those looking to grab them after enjoying a stellar 2019 where she won five World Cup medals.
The category she shoots in, the 10m Air Rifle, has several talents from India with Anjum Moudgil, Elavenil Valarivan and Mehuli Ghosh all providing strong competition. However, Apurvi Chandela is unaffected by the hype around who will make the squad for the Tokyo Olympics.
“I have been focusing on my own preparations, as it’s an individual sport,” she told the Olympic Channel in an exclusive chat. “I also became the world no. 1 in May’19, so my performance has been good. It’s also good to have competition, it’s only pushed me to reach higher and not settle for anything less.”
Why Indian shooting has touched great heights
A historic individual gold at Beijing 2008 by Abhinav Bindra helped put India on the map and since then Indian shooters have gone from strength to strength with several achieving world no.1 status over the years.
Jitu Rai and Heena Sidhu were big hopes at Rio 2016 while the mantle has been picked up by Manu Bhaker and Saurabh Chaudhary in recent times and Apurvi Chandela believes it is down to two major factors.
“I think it has to do with the fact that there are a lot more ranges and academies now. The facilities and infrastructure have seen a lot of growth,” she stated. “There are also good Indian shooters who have now become coaches.”
Apurvi Chandela hails the quality in India
Apurvi Chandela herself has been shooting since the age of 15 and has already become a veteran at an age where most athletes hit their peak. “It’s extremely vital to keep up with the quality around the world, I’ve been in the sport for about 11 years now, so each year it’s been the same challenge,” revealed the 27-year-old Indian shooter.
“The (level of competition around the) world has also gone up for sure. But so has Indian shooting. We are faced with tough competition back home now, which prepares us better to take on the world. So things are looking up.”
The 15-member Indian squad could yet expand once the season resumes and the ranking slots are decided. And with people like Apurvi Chandela among the prime contenders to make it to the Tokyo Olympics, India will not be wrong to expect quite a few medals at the showpiece event.