Mairaj Ahmad Khan: It was hard to shoot one's best at selection trials

In the current uncertainty triggered by coronavirus, Angad and Mairaj responded in different ways in the final selection trials for Tokyo Olympics.

File Photo: Angad Vir Singh Bajwa (left) and Mairaj Ahmad Khan (right) delivered less-than-perfect performances.

Angad Vir Singh Bajwa and Mairaj Ahmad Khan had won the Olympic quota in dramatic fashion by crawling their way from the uncertainty of a long shoot-off to make the final and clinch the gold and silver medals, respectively, at the Asian Championship in Doha. In the national championship thereafter, Angad shot a world record score of 60 out of 60 in the final to beat Mairaj to the gold, after the latter shot a perfect 125 in qualification.

In the current uncertainty triggered by the coronavirus pandemic, Angad and Mairaj responded in different ways in the final selection trials for Tokyo Olympics. The 24-year-old Angad kept his composure to shoot 121 out of 125, while the 44-year-old Mairaj slipped to 115. There was no danger of the two losing their Olympic quota to anyone else.

“When all the plans like the Cyprus Grand Prix, the Cyprus World Cup and the Delhi World Cup get mixed around, it was hard to shoot one’s best,” said Mairaj, who had missed the final berth in the Rio Olympics in the shoot-off.

‘Hard to focus’

Angad also felt the same, but was able to muster sufficient energy to be close to his best. “It is hard to focus on training and trials, as there was cancellation of the two World Cups. To reset and go for the Olympic trials in such short notice was hard, as it does take a toll on you. Overall, I am happy with the result, having topped it with quite a margin, despite feeling very burnt out after a hectic month of shooting,” observed Angad, who has been diligently training.

ALSO READ | Saurabh Chaudhary tops air pistol with 588

With not much at stake, it was tough for Mairaj to goad himself to be at his competitive best. “It is not important to perform now. The bigger event is still waiting. I am in the middle of a lot of things, working on particular stations and those same stations I missed only in this trial,” said Mairaj, as he viewed the fresh challenge of tuning into the new machines installed at the range.

‘Relieved’

Angad, who trains regularly with coach Tore Brovold, the Beijing Olympics silver medallist from Norway, said he would rest and recover before making fresh plans in consultation with the coach. “All plans have gone waste due to the coronavirus. My coach has told me to take full rest for next week, before starting again. We can’t plan anything as of now, at least for the next two weeks. I don’t really want to take a risk with this coronavirus. For the moment, I am relieved to have topped the Olympic quota points table in skeet,” said Angad.

It was a different situation for Prithviraj Tondaiman, who topped the trap event with a score of 120, even when there was no Olympic quota, to stake his claim. He stayed away from trouble by having hot water with raw turmeric, cinnamon, ginger and thulasi green tea. “We were only 10 shooters, a couple of parents and a handful of drivers. No one was infected. So, it was quite O.K. The real threat is when we take a flight back home,” said Prithviraj, who had worked hard for the Olympic quota through the season, but in vain.

Support Sportstar


Dear Reader,

Support our journalism — where text and pictures intermingle so seamlessly — and help us scale up your experience as the world changes around us. Your contribution is vital to our brand of uninfluenced, boots-on-the-ground reportage that’s worth your while. Clickbait sensationalism is not for us, but editorial independence is — we owe it to you.