National Shotgun C’ship: Focus shifts to double trap

Ronjan Sodhi, with tons of achievements to his credit, including the Asian Games gold, World Cup Final gold medals twice, World Cup gold twice, has been keeping a low profile, struggling to cope with the new format.

Ronjan Sodhi will attempt to tune his technique to be ready for the Asian Olympic quota event to be staged in Delhi from January 25 next year.   -  PTI

The colts may have caused a coup in skeet and the former stars may have become the stalwarts yet again in trap, but the focus will be very much on the best double trap shooters in the country in the 59th National shotgun championship at the JDA Range here on Tuesday.

Mohd Asab and Ankur Mittal have done quite a bit this season to lift the profile of the event which won the Olympic silver medal in Athens through Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore. They had to be, as the best double trap shooter in recent times, Ronjan Sodhi, with tons of achievements to his credit, including the Asian Games gold, World Cup Final gold medals twice, World Cup gold twice, has been keeping a low profile, struggling to cope with the new format.

Of course, the 36-year-old Ronjan was back in the reckoning to attempt an Olympic quota place in the Asian Championship in Kuwait, before the IOC revoked the status. Ronjan, along with Mohd Asab and Ankur Mittal, will attempt to tune his technique to be ready for the Asian Olympic quota event to be staged in Delhi from January 25.

To jog the memory, the 28-year-old Mohd Asab won the bronze in the World Cup Final in Nicosia this season, as he was close to his best in the knock-out phase after having qualified with a score of 135. He had shot 143 on way to the fifth place in the World Cup in Gabala and had shot 140 in the World Championship last year in Granada for the 11th place.

Ankur Mittal had won the Asian clay championship gold last year in Al Ain when he shot 141 and followed that with two rounds of 28 out of 30 in the knock-out phase. He was seventh in the Incheon Asian Games with 136.

Throw in the former World junior champion Asher Noria, who pursues his career as a financial consultant in Atlanta, and you already have a heady concoction. The 23-year-old Asher has been away from shooting for some time, particularly in the international circuit after the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games in 2010.

The women, as most of the trap shooters double up for this event, will have no tension of tuning themselves for a quota despite it not being an Olympic event. Yet, there is a lot of interest as Shreyasi Singh had won the Commonwealth Games silver last year in Glasgow, and together with Shagun Chowdhary and Varsha Varman had won the team bronze in the Asian Games in Incheon.

Having lost the women’s trap gold to Anam Basit, a very determined young shooter who has been training with Mansher Singh in Bhopal for the last few years, Shreyasi will be keen to assert her credentials in this event. One can never ignore the World Cup silver medallist Seema Tomar, even though she is not at her best and has issues with her gun.

There will be about 30 women in competition, apart from about 160 men and 60-odd juniors.

Thus, the event which is completed in one day, will need two days of competition to identify the champions.

With the shooters going through stringent training, it was fascinating to see the contrasting methods of coaching by Anwer Sultan and Paramjit Singh Sodhi. It was equally interesting to see the Administrator of the Dr. Karni Singh Range in Tughlakabad, Shiv Dutt Bakshi, training in right earnest for double trap, along with the organising secretary of the rifle and pistol national championship, Subhash Rana.

In the warmth of the afternoon, in the picturesque setting of the range, watching many veterans go through the training phase with the juniors, it was clear that shooting is a healthy addiction for life.