The 14th edition of the Asian Shooting Championships gets underway in Doha on November 5th with extra significance for all those taking part.
This competition will be the last chance for athletes from Asia to qualify for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
With 38 Olympic quotas up for grabs, there will be a strong Indian contingent in Qatar to try and add to their Tokyo 2020 shooting team.
While the likes of Apurvi Chandela, Abhishek Verma and Yashaswini Deswal have already bagged quotas for the forthcoming Olympics, the Asian Championships will be a great chance for some of the nation’s other top shooters to join that list.
Here is what India can expect in each shooting category:
This has been one of India’s stronger suits in the recent past, with the nation’s shooters already achieving the maximum quota places available for the discipline.
The men’s air pistol team has Saurabh Chaudhary and Verma, who won medals at the recently concluded ISSF Rio World Cup, as well as promising youngster Shravan Kumar.
With Verma and Chaudhary having already achieved quotas for Tokyo 2020, all eyes will be on Shravan, who won a silver in the national shooting selection trials held in July, and will now look to make his mark on the global stage as well to stake his claim for the 2020 Games.
In the women’s air pistol event, India’s main contenders will be youngsters Manu Bhaker and Yashaswini Deswal.
The duo have already won quotas for the Olympics, and will look to maintain their form in the penultimate event of the year. Apart from these two, veteran shooter Annu Raj Singh will also be in the mix for women’s pistol events at the Asian Championships.
In the men’s rapid fire pistol event, India’s main hopes will be pinned on 17-year-old Anish Singh Bhanwala. The youngster won a gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and has been performing admirably in the junior circuit; so can he continue that form on the senior stage?
India’s women’s team looks very strong for rifle events with Chandela and Anjum Moudgil being ranked first and seventh in the world respectively in the 10m women’s air rifle category.
Elavenil Valarivan, who won gold at the ISSF Rio World Cup, completes the Indian women’s team. With three of the most promising shooters in their roster, India will be very optimistic of getting a medal in the women’s rifle shooting category.
Tejaswini Sawant will be India’s main hope in the three-position rifle event. With India still having no Tokyo 2020 participants in that category, the three-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist will try to buck that trend in the final Olympic qualifying tournament.
In the men’s rifle shooting section, only Divyansh Singh Panwar has secured an Olympic quota thus far for the Indian contingent. The Asian Championships will therefore be a good opportunity for the likes of Deepak Kumar, Yash Vardhan or Kiran Ankush Jadhav to step up and win one of the three quota places up for grabs.
Deepak narrowly missed out on a quota place at the Rio World Cup, finishing in ninth place after the qualification round, and will be looking to improve that standing in Doha.
Trap and skeet events have historically been India’s weakest events in shooting. With the exception of Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore’s silver medal in double trap at the 2004 Athens Games, India have struggled to consistently bag medals at global competitions, coming up short most recently at the Lahiti World Cup in 2019.
India’s men’s trap team have the likes of Kynan Chenai and Manavjit Singh Sandhu, former Olympians, and Prithviraj Tondaiman. Sandhu is a two-time ISSF World Cup gold medallist and Chenai was part of the Indian contingent at the 2016 Rio Olympics. If the trap shooters start off brightly in Doha, another Olympic quota for India can be on the cards.
In the women’s roster, Saniya Sheikh in skeet and Shreyasi Singh in trap will be the ones to watch out for from an Indian perspective. Singh is a former national champion and performed admirably in the national qualifiers, getting picked ahead of compatriot Soumya Gupta. Sheikh on the other hand has had a season to forget thus far and will want to end on a high with a good showing at the Asian Championships.
Where to watch?
The finals of each event at the Asian Championships will be streamed on the ISSF YouTube channel.
A full schedule of the events can be found on the ISSF website.