Anjali expects windy outdoor shooting range at Rio

Anjali Bhagwat, the Commonwealth Games rifle shooting champion, has said Indian shooters could be hampered by the wind as they did not have as ready an access to different types of ammunition as the European countries’ shooters.

Anjali Bhagwat refused to predict the number of medals India will win in shooting at Rio.   -  The Hindu archives

Going by her personal experience, former Commonwealth Games rifle shooting champion Anjali Bhagwat expects very windy conditions on the outdoor shooting range during the Rio Olympic Games in August.

“The 25m and 50m outdoor ranges will be very windy. I won my 2008 Beijing Olympic quota place in the Rio World Cup. It’s the same range which has not changed. We just had the Pre-Olympic World Cup there. Everything is the same,” said Anjali at the Star Sports channel’s media conference to give details of its coverage of the August 5-21 Games.

Anjali said Indian shooters could be more hampered by the wind as they did not have as ready an access to different types of ammunition as the European countries’ shooters.

“Conditions are the same for everyone, but wind matters a lot (for Indian shooters) and technically it’s difficult for us as we don’t have that much of advantage to get quality of ammunition unlike Europeans who have brands of various ammunition having different velocities. In windy conditions we try to shoot with lower velocity ammunition. But we have a limited access to these different types of ammunition.”

Anjali, who won four gold medals in the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, declined to predict India’s medal chances at Rio because of the change in rules after the 2012 London Olympics in which men shooters Vijay Kumar (25m rapid fire pistol) and Gagan Narang (10m air rifle) won silver and bronze medals, respectively.

Change in rules

“After 2012, the whole rule book has changed — from timings, from the procedure of matches and the counting. Earlier, in the three-position event, we started with lying (prone), then it was kneeling and last was done standing. But now it starts with kneeling, then prone and then standing,” said the 46-year-old rifle shooter.

“Plus the procedure for finals and the number of shots have changed. Earlier, only 10 shots were there in three positions, but now we have to shoot 15 shots each in all three positions. Every shooter has equal chances to qualify. Earlier, the best shooter standing will only win, but now all have equal chances to cover up in the finals,” said Anjali.

Another rule change that Anjali mentioned was the nullification of scores in the qualification stages of some events. "The pre-qualification scores of the eight shooters who qualify for the finals are nullified. We don't carry forward the advantage of scores of pre-qualifications while in some other events like air rifle and air pistol the scores in pre-qualification is counted in decimals.

"Earlier, it was out of 400 or 600. Now the perfect shot is 10.9 and the difference (between shooters) remains 0.1 or 0.2. It's thus very hard to predict about medals. We can assure of good performances.

"In rapid fire, where Vijay Kumar won silver (in 2012), in the finals it's an elimination round and after 15 series of shots people get eliminated. The shoot-out for medals can go up to 50 or 60 shots, but you may get eliminated after five shots also in the elimination round. you can't really say (predict the winner).

"I expect more medals. They are talented, have lot of experience and have shown consistency. We have won medals from World Championships, like Jitu Rai, but it depends on that particular day," she explained.

Responsibility of the individual

While admitting coaches were important, Anjali said it finally boiled down to the individual shooter. "It's your responsibility to keep yourself composed and focussed. We are awake all the time. When Abhinav (Bindra) won the gold, it was wrong for newspapers to say he did not react.

He was totally focussing on his shot and to come to the real world it took him some minutes."

"Qualifying for the Olympics is an honour, but you need to enjoy being under pressure to do well there. People who try to avoid the pressure collapse as competition is so tough. Mental preparation should be at its peak and you have to believe in yourself," she added.

She said physical fitness was very important for a shooter.

"I have been shooting for over 28 years and in my group no one had been injured. We believe shooting needs physical fitness but the new generation thinks that you just need to stand and shoot. To prevent injury you need to be fit as your spine takes the weight of the weapon."

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