Ahead of the third edition of the Khelo India Youth Games, India’s junior national coach talks about India’s Olympic chances, and how a new shooting talent is spotted and nurtured.
Their shooting squad is one of India’s most potent weapons in India’s Olympic holster, with marksmen and women like Anjum Moudgil, Divyansh Singh Panwar and Aishwarya Singh Tomar earning plaudits on a regular basis.
Therefore, it's no surprise that their coach and mentor Suma Shirur, India's junior rifle team's high-performance specialist coach, is not short of confidence about her side's chances of capturing some medals at Tokyo 2020 later this year.
“I think that India is on top of the game as far as shooting is concerned,” Shirur said in a statement released by Khelo India Youth Games.
“The shooters are very talented. They have very good hand-eye coordination. Each one of the shooters is capable of winning a medal on a good day. We are very strong in two-three events and I am hoping for a couple of Olympic medals this time.”
The 2002 Commonwealth Games gold medallist also believes the success will help pave the road for India to become a sporting superpower in the future, “The Indian government's financial support for athletes is the best thing that has happened to sports. Because of the Khelo India Youth Games, young talents are being identified at the grassroots level and they are provided with the equipment. It's such a huge impetus for a young athlete. Khelo India is going to pave the way for India to become a sporting superpower in the years to come.”
Events like the Khelo India Youth Games also help the likes of Shirur and fellow coach Jaspal Rana spot the next big name in action.
"We observe young talents for about two-three years and see at what pace a particular junior player is growing. If a shooter is talented, then the player picks up the sport at a faster rate than the others.
While talent is a prerequisite, for Shirur, it’s not the be-all and end-all, for it has to be nurtured on a bed of effort and diligence. “Eventually, talent is not enough. All athletes have to work hard on their game. There are many athletes who come up with sheer hard work,” notes Shirur.
The 2020 Khelo India Youth Games will be held from January 10-22 in Guwahati, Assam.