Indian shooter Apurvi Chandela in reckoning for Khel Ratna

Apurvi had a brilliant 2019, setting the finals world record in the women’s 10m air rifle at the New Delhi World Cup with a score of 252.9 and following that up with a second gold medal at the Munich World Cup.

Indian shooter Apurvi Chandela had a brilliant 2019.   -  KAMESH SRINIVASAN

Champion shooter Apurvi Chandela, who has been nominated by her state Rajasthan for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award, believes she has a strong case to receive India’s top sporting honour.

The 27-year-old from Jaipur had a brilliant 2019, setting the finals world record in the women’s 10m air rifle at the New Delhi World Cup with a score of 252.9 and following that up with a second gold medal at the Munich World Cup.

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Interestingly, Chandela’s mark is better than the men’s world record, held by China’s Yu Haonan, by 0.1 points.

Chandela was world No. 1 from May to December last year, before the honour was taken by compatriot Elavenil Valarivan, who won the World Cup Final in Putian, China. Chandela, along with Zhang Changhong of China, won silver in the mixed-team event at the World Cup Final.

The Jaipur shooter’s World Cup gold medals in the women’s 10m air rifle were the first for an Indian woman since the one won by Anjali Bhagwat – the only female shooter from the country to have been bestowed the Khel Ratna award – in 2003.

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A Commonwealth Games (CWG) gold medallist in 2014, Chandela also won gold in the mixed-team 10m air rifle at last year’s Rio de Janeiro World Cup, and bronze medals in the women’s event at the 2018 CWG in Gold Coast, Australia, and mixed-team event at the Asian Games later that year.

“It is every player’s dream to be honoured with the prestigious Khel Ratna, as it is the highest sporting honour in India,” said Chandela, who is pleased with her recovery to top-level performance after the Rio Olympics, where she hadn’t been at her best due to an injury in the run-up to the Games.

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Chandela also made her mark at the World Championships in 2018, where she placed fourth and clinched an Olympic quota place along with silver medallist Anjum Moudgil. The two were also part of the silver-winning team.

Among the shooters, Moudgil, who won gold in the mixed-team 10m air rifle events at the Beijing and Munich World Cups last year, and double trap world champion Ankur Mittal are also in the race for the Khel Ratna.