Manavjit Singh Sandhu on Asian Games foundering: ‘I let the medal slip’

In a chat with Sportstar, Manavjit Singh Sandhu reflects on his Asian Games disappointment and reveals his immediate goals.

Manavjit Singh Sandhu: “I am working on my fitness better than ever before, and I am ready to shoot.”   -  K. K. Najeeb

Manavjit Singh Sandhu has been stumbling quite uncharacteristically this season. Yet, he feels he is shooting well and that he would be ready to strike in the season ahead.

Having missed the trap final (by one point) — in the ongoing National shotgun championship in Jaipur — after a long time, the 42-year-old Manavjit struck some form to win the mixed doubles gold with Rajeshwari Kumari.

‘Casual competition’

Even though his performance was good enough to win the mixed trap gold for Punjab, Manavjit was not willing to read much into it, as he felt Indian shotgun was not that ready to capitalise on the new Olympic event. “We don’t have depth in women’s trap and thus most of the teams are lopsided. It was a casual competition,” Manavjit said.

Looking back at the men’s trap, Manavjit said he lost the race in the last round with a score of 21. “Going into the last day with 95 out of 100 was not bad. I was shooting well, but it was not a good last round. There was no real reason for it. It was just poor shooting,” said Manavjit, quite willing to take the blame, for the rare experience of missing out in his 27th national championship.

Manavjit, a former world champion and a six-time Asian champion who had won the World Cup gold medals twice, was a lot more upset about his performance at the Asian Games in Palembang. “I am not too concerned about the National score as there is a provision to get rid of one bad score. We will have four scores by the end of January, and three best scores will be considered for national team selection for the first three World Cups. I am ready to shoot well in the trials,” said Manavjit.

‘Unhappy and disappointed’

Looking back at the Asian Games, he said, “I let the medal slip.”

'Even in the Rio Olympics, Fehaid Aldeehani (in picture), who won the double trap gold, was 49.' Age is no bar, says Manavjit Singh Sandhu. Photo: Getty Images

 

Having qualified at the top by winning the four-way shoot-off after a tied score of 119, Manavjit had missed a medal by one point. In a dramatic finish, when it looked impossible for him to miss a medal, Manavjit missed in an alarming fashion; thus, he could not add to his silver medal from the Doha Asian Games in 2006. “I was very focussed this season [on] the Asian Games. Qualifying as No. 1 into the final was the best one can hope for. At one stage, I needed to shoot one of the last two birds for a medal. I was not lucky,” said Manavjit.

With the demanding new format, Manavjit felt that even the slightest sense of “fatigue” can change everything for a shooter. “I am very unhappy and disappointed not to have a won a medal in the Asian Games,” said Manavjit.

Age no bar

However, he was clear that with the improved fitness, he would be ready for the challenges ahead. “Age is no criteria in shooting. Even in the Rio Olympics, Fehaid Aldeehani, who won the double trap gold, was 49. Abdullah Al Rashidi, who won the skeet bronze, was 53. So, age is no issue. I am working on my fitness better than ever before, and I am ready to shoot. Just need to be lucky,” observed Manavjit.

Having competed in the last four Olympics since Athens in 2004, Manavjit said the first challenge was to win the Olympic quota place. “We have the four World Cups and the Asian Championship. Winning the quota is the big challenge,” he remarked.

As he guides a number of shooters, and appreciates the improved depth of quality in men’s trap, Manavjit is ready to tackle his own issues and strike hard when it matters.