High hopes from Indian shooters as they face Chinese & Korean might

first_imgAce shooter Manavjit Singh will be in fray in men’s trap.In most people’s minds, the word ‘shooting’ conjures up images of violence, of deafening noise and bloodshed. The Olympic sport of shooting, however, is played in some of the most picturesque locales in the world, far from the madding crowds of city centres. The only sound there is the intermittent firing of the guns at electronic or clay targets.The Ongnyeon range here, situated 10km from the heart of the city, is no different. Incheon has come up in a big way over the last decade or so, but the organisers have made sure that the rifle and pistol ranges are in a serene setting with mountains nearby and a cool breeze ever present. It is in this setting that India will expect to win their first medal in the women’s 10m air pistol event on Saturday morning.Featuring former world No.1 Heena Sidhu, rising star Malaika Goel and Shweta Chaudhry, the event will get over before most Indians wake up – between 7 and 7:30am.Shooting is a sport where the day’s result counts. Years of labour at the ranges can come to nought if one bad series pulls down a shooter. Ask Heena, the World Cup Finals gold medallist, who finished seventh at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games while the bubbly teenager Malaika, almost Heena’s protege, bagged the silver medal.The second event of the day is one where India will be even more confident of glory, the men’s 50m pistol, featuring World Championship silver medallist and Commonwealth Games gold medallist Jitu Rai, along with Delhi CWG gold medallist Omkar Singh and Om Prakash.advertisementAs a sport, the growth of shooting in India has been truly phenomenal in the last two decades. For sheer depth, variety and a huge number of new faces, it has been a fascinating journey.Armyman Rai epitomises that. After the highs of Glasgow, Jitu went one better when he sealed a quota place for the 2016 Rio Olympics at the World Championships. “I want to continue to get better and better till the Olympics,” said Rai, who is aware the standard at the Asian Games is very high.The outdoor shotgun events are being organised at the distant Gyeonggido range, where seasoned pro Mansher Singh, Manavjit Singh Sandhu and young Kynan Chenai will call for the orange clay birds on day one of the trap competition on Saturday.Manavjit narrowly missed the final at the World Championships in Granada, Spain, this month, while Mansher, 48, says he is still raring to go. Despite logging intense practice at the new range over the last couple of days, it will boil down to staying calm over the two-day competition for the trio.In an outdoor sport like shotgun, things like wind, light and ambient air temperature matter a lot. The weather has been extremely pleasant this week and high scores can be expected.There is plenty of action in shooting over the next 10 days and it will be fascinating to see how Beijing Olympics gold medallist Abhinav Bindra and London Olympics bronze medallist Gagan Narang fire themselves up for their respective events.Speaking to Mail Today, former international shooter Moraad Ali Khan said India should not get carried away by medal expectations. “It is true that the Indian shooters have grown from strength to strength, yet we must be cautious as China and Korea are rock solid in pistol and rifle events,” he said.last_img

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