Out of India’s 181 gold medals won across 17 editions of the Commonwealth Games, 63 have come in the sport of shooting.
However, for the quadrennial event, which will be held in Birmingham between July 28 and August 8, shooting did not make the cut - for the first time since 1974. The sport made its CWG debut in 1966.
Why was shooting excluded from the Birmingham Commonwealth Games?
Shooting was initially excluded from the roster for Birmingham Games due to “logistical issues.” Indian Olympic Association threatened to boycott the event in July 2019 but following a visit by CGF president Louise Martin and CEO David Grevemberg in November, it withdrew its warning during the annual general body meeting in December.
Not only that, while withdrawing the boycott call, IOA proposed to host Commonwealth Championships in shooting as well as archery in 2022 with the condition that the medals awarded in these two events should be recognised in the final tally of the participating countries for the 2022 CWG.
The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) in February 2020 announced that Chandigarh will host the Commonwealth shooting and archery championships in January 2022, and the medals from the two events will be counted for the “ranking of competing nations” at the Birmingham Games.
“One week following the Closing Ceremony of Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, the CGF shall issue a medal table that includes results from the Chandigarh 2022 Commonwealth Archery and Shooting Championships, as a further and final legitimate ranking of competing nations and territories from the respective competitions,” the CGF had said in a release.
As it turned out, in July 2021, both archery and shooting championships in Chandigarh were cancelled due to the uncertainty posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
How have Indian shooters performed historically at the Commonwealth Games?
India has been one of the strongest performers in shooting at the Commonwealth Games. Apart from 63 gold medals, the tricolour nation has also clinched 44 silver and 28 bronze medals. In terms of the number of gold medals won, only Australia is ahead by seven.
At the previous edition in Gold Coast, Indian shooters alone bagged 16 of the country’s total tally of 66 medals. Manu Bhaker, then a 16-year-old, made an impressive debut beating her senior Heena Sidhu to gold and a Games record in the women’s 10m air pistol.
Another debutant, Anish Bhanwala, became the youngest Indian gold medallist at the Commonwealth Games at the age of 15 years. Bhanwala broke the Games record in the men’s 25m rapid fire pistol.
The future of shooting at the quadrennial event does not look bright as the sport, along with wrestling and archery, did not make it to the initial list of sports for the 2026 Commonwealth Games to be held in Victoria, Australia.