After having won the rapid-fire pistol gold at the National championship in Kerala recently, ahead of the established guns, 17-year-old Adarsh Singh has consolidated his position among the elite shooters. He is ready to stake his claim among men for international debut, possibly with the World Cup at home.

Adarsh was able to emerge on top in rapid-fire pistol — the Olympic event — in one of the selection trials despite not having the discipline as his sole focus. Besides rapid-fire pistol, he has been shooting centre-fire pistol, sports pistol and the standard pistol. In the selection trials on another occasion, he came third in the category.

Read | Adarsh stuns Bhanwala to take rapid-fire gold

He has been able to lift his qualification scores to a high of 578, but it remains to be seen whether he can get the averages right as compared to the other leading shooters like Commonwealth Games gold medallist Anish Bhanwala, Olympic silver medallist Vijay Kumar and the Rio Olympian Gurpreet Singh. There is also Harshwardhan Singh Yadav, who has been stepping it up like Adarsh, a student of Faridabad Model School.

“He is good in air pistol also. But he had to give up something,” said Adarsh’s father, Harinder Singh, who is disappointed that the Haryana government has not been supporting such a bright youngster despite dozens of medals in the National championships in the last three years.

Expensive pursuit

Harinder argues that the senior shooters are generally well placed as they have jobs and are supported by their organisations. He believes that the juniors — at least the ones performing the best in the country — deserve a lot more support, as the entry fee, pistol, ammunition, shoes, training, travel and stay expenses burn a big hole in the pocket of the parents who also travel with them. “I never knew that shooting would be so expensive, but having come this far, we can’t go back,” said Harinder, a businessman dealing with real estate, upset about the depressing market trend.

Right from being born with a lump near the spine, which required a tough operation and which eventually kept him away from arduous sporting disciplines like cricket and badminton, Adarsh has been defying the odds to prove his mettle at every step. When he was not selected for the Haryana team despite being ranked second in the country, Adarsh proved his ability by winning the individual gold in the National championship in Kerala. “We had to rent a flat in Kerala with another family and did our own cooking, during the National championship,” recalled Harinder, proud about the son’s ability to thrive on adversity.

Own grip

Despite being a left-hander, Adarsh used the pistol of his sister Riya Singh, a third year student of St. Stephen’s College, in the early days, without even changing the grip. Later, he had his own grip while sharing the pistol. Now, he has many pistols and has established himself in each one of them in different events, winning international team medals as well in World Championships and World Cups.

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At least to have good training, as the 15,000 rounds allowed to be imported by a shooter in a season run short, Adarsh is keen to make the team and aim better. His father is looking for support to help the cause of his talented son, as only ₹50,000 has come their way so far from the government.