The Asian Games may still be on, but Indian shooting has moved on to Korea for the World Championship, after winning an impressive nine medals, including two gold and four silver in Palembang.
Looking back at the phenomenal achievement in the Asian Games, coach and team leader Mansher Singh, already in Korea, had no hesitation in saying that the shooters ‘’exceeded expectations at the Games’’.
The removal of the team events in the shooting had taken the punch out of the Indian team, but the ‘’juniors were a revelation’’, said Mansher, stressing that "Asian Games is always harder as there is more depth in competition’’ because of the presence of some of the best shooting nations.
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Having competed in four Olympics, 11 World Championships and six Asian Games in the trap, Mansher does know a thing or two about competing at the highest level. He was particularly impressed with the pistol shooters who won two gold and two bronze medals from the five events.
‘’It was a staggering 80% success rate’’, Mansher pointed out, adding that out of nine starts, the pistol shooters had six finalists. The fact that Saurabh Chaudhary shot 586 in men’s air pistol and Manu Bhaker shot 593 in women’s sports pistol in qualification, should augur well for the team’s aspirations to win the Olympic quota places in the World Championship, starting on September 2.
Of course, Mansher had special words for the shotgun marksmen Lakshay Sheoran and Shardul Vihan, who won the trap and double trap silver medals.
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‘’I shared time on and off the range with Lakshay and Shardul. They are very simple kids, who were great to work with largely due to their positive attitude. Unaffected by the stature of the competition, they approached their matches with determination. Both had problems with equipment, but adapted to the suggested corrections quickly and smoothly. I was able to talk them out of pressure and negativity during competition without difficulty as both have a very simple and clear mind," remarked Mansher.
If the youngsters stole the thunder in other events, it was the seasoned bunch of rifle shooters, Sanjeev Rajput, Deepak Kumar, Ravi Kumar and Apurvi Chandela, who delivered two silver and a bronze medal.
‘’Deepak had a very good final. Ravi and Apurvi are a very good prospect for the mixed pairs event and stand a good chance to secure Olympic quota. Sanjeev is the most experienced and provides a good balance. Three of the four made finals’’, stressed Mansher.
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A seasoned coach, Mansher said that the additional shooters joining the squad for the World Championship would further strengthen the team as there was not much difference between them and those who competed in the Asian Games.
‘’Some of them, who have not won medals at the Asian Games, are fired up to make amends here’’, Mansher said. From winning a gold and three bronze medals from the individual events in the last edition in Incheon, it has been a phenomenal jump for Indian shooting.
Mansher politely pointed out that the experienced shooters, who were serving as coaches in the Indian team in pistol, rifle and shotgun, ‘’added a very crucial ingredient in the success of the juniors’’. The medals apart, the sheer high number of finalists from across all events in the shooting were the high point.
‘’This has never happened before and only goes to show the depth of our talent and quality of shooters in the team. If team events had been included, we would have come away with at least 17 medals in total’’, said Mansher, with understandable pride.