Anish Bhanwala targets Olympic quota spot

Anish Bhanwala, the 16-year-old shooter, hopes to obtain qualification at the upcoming World Cup in New Delhi.

Eye on the prize: Anish Bhanwala hopes to participate in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.   -  AP

Anish Bhanwala, the Commonwealth Games gold medallist, has meticulously planned his path to the Olympics in 2020. His first aim is to secure a quota for the Games at the upcoming World Cup.

“My target is to do well in the World Cups this year, where quotas for the Olympics will be on offer. The main one is the World Cup in Delhi in February, it’s in my home ground,” Anish told PTI. “It’s a step-by-step process; I am focusing on qualifications for the time being, once that is done then I will think about the Olympics,” he added.

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Sixteen-year-old Bhanwala had grabbed headlines at the Commonwealth Games in 2018, claiming the top prize in the men’s 25m rapid fire pistol category to be India’s youngest gold medallist at the Games. En route, he had put up a record score of 30.

Bhanwala, a Haryana-born shooter, has several other international titles, too, to boost his impressive CV. He clinched the Commonwealth Shooting Championship title in 2017, in Brisbane; the ISSF World Cup 2018 title, in Guadalaraja; and the ISSF Junior World Cup 2018 title, in Sydney. In the 25m standard pistol category, he has a world record score of 579, secured at the ISSF Junior World Championships in 2017.

Olympic quota up for grabs

The Shooting World Cups begin in February, 2019. New Delhi hosts the first one for rifle and pistol events. It will offer Indian shooters a chance to secure Olympic quotas at home. So far, among Indians, only Apurvi Chandela and Anjum Moudgil have managed to secure quotas for the Olympics, both in the women’s 10m air-rifle event.

Apurvi Chandela (left) and Anjum Moudgil (right) are the only Indian shooters to have clinched the Olympic quota spot so far. Photo: ISSF


Bhanwala has put behind his less-than-desired performance at the Asian Games, 2018. He had failed to qualify for the final event. He said, “There is always pressure on us during the games, not just the Asian Games. My training was good and my first half went well but the second half was a little down. I missed the finals by two-three points only,” Bhanwala said.

Bhanwala had produced a fine performance in the qualifications, but on the second day, could not reproduce it. Eventually, he finished ninth, with a score of 576. “I tried my best but I feel my performance wasn’t that bad. You can miss out by a slightest of margins on certain days, it is a part and parcel of the sport,” he added.

‘Competitive’ sport

By participating in junior and senior events — unlike other sporting disciplines, shooting allows young aspirants to participate in both categories — Bhanwala has benefitted. “The number of participants has increased, youngsters taking part have also increased, it has become very competitive now at the junior as well as the senior level,” he said.

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Among other upcoming stars jostling for space alongside him are Manu Bhaker and Saurabh Chaudhary. “It’s good that we get to compete more — in the junior as well as the senior events. Our confidence also increases once we compete at the senior competitions and after that junior events seem simpler,” Bhanwala said.

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