After a fantastic debut, there's more in store for Meghana

Turning in fine performances at three ISSF World Cups this year, Meghana Sajjanar has risen to 15th place in the world rankings in the women's 10m air rifle.

Meghana Sajjanar cuts a cake, celebrating her rise to the top-20 in world rankings.   -  SHREEDUTTA CHIDANANDA

The Karnataka shooter Meghana Sajjanar has enjoyed a fantastic debut international season, turning in fine performances at three ISSF World Cups this year, culminating in her rise to 15th place in the world rankings in the women's 10m air rifle.

Last month, the 23-year-old missed the bronze medal by a whisker at the ISSF World Cup Stage 5 in Azerbaijan, losing in the play-off after having qualified in top spot for the final.

“I have no regrets about it,” she said here on Sunday. “For my first final, it was pretty good. Everyone is nervous in a final and I managed to handle the pressure well. You can't expect anything till the last shot.”

Sajjanar's efforts were reflected in the world rankings released on July 1. On Sunday, she participated in a quiet celebration of that milestone at the Elite Shooting Club here with Rakesh Manpat, her mentor, and other shooters.

“Every time I have participated in a World Cup, my performance has got better and better. The experience has helped,” she said. “It feels good that all the hard work is paying off. I didn't have any expectations about the world ranking. Only my performance mattered.”

Sajjanar, ranked only behind Pooja Ghatkar (ninth) among Indian women in the world, may now hope for a spot at the ISSF World Cup Final in Delhi in October. Manpat, a former National champion, was pleased with his protege's performances. “If you look at the Olympics, the top 30 shooters possibly qualify. If she continues this form next year, it gives her a good chance of being in the Indian team,” he said. “Technically, she is the same as before. Mentally, she is more relaxed.”

Talks with a potential sponsor for Sajjanar had been fruitful, Manpat revealed, with a formal announcement to be made soon. “I personally know how finances can be a major hindrance, and can affect you mentally,” he added. “This backing will keep her in a better frame of mind.”

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