Novel Online Shooting Championship keeps shooters going

The Online Shooting Championship saw Sanjeev Rajput win the 10m air rifle, while Shahzar Rizvi and Amanpreet Singh took the top two spots in 10m air pistol.

Sanjeev Rajput

Sanjeev Rajput scored 252.6, just 0.2 lesser than the current AR60 world record, to win the 10m air rifle. (File Image)   -  ISSF

Putting aside the unavoidable technical difficulties that would accompany any online contest, shooters-turned-hosts Shimon Sharif and Joydeep Karmakar believe the second edition of the online shooting championship on Saturday was a success.

In fact, organiser Sharif announced the tournament would continue even after the temporary hiatus in global sport due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The tournament, which had a first-of-its-kind E-finals, saw three Indians shine with a podium finish. Olympic quota holder in 50m rifle 3 positions Sanjeev Rajput won gold in 10m air rifle, 2018 Guadalajara World Cup winner Shahzar Rizvi and 2017 World Cup final bronze medalist Amanpreet Singh clinched the top two spots in 10m air pistol.

Online Shooting Championship

A snapshot from Saturday's Online Shooting Championship.

 

Rajput, who scored 252.6 to edge Austria's Martin Strempfl by 0.9 points, shot just 0.2 lesser than the current AR60 world record. What surprised many was the fact that this wasn't an event the marksman usually takes part in during international competitions.

"For me, air rifle is not a priority and I have not been shooting in it for a long time but after the last time I shot online, I practised for two to three days. I just kept in mind what I had to do and that's how it happened. This time, unlike the last time, I finished 60 shots with good stability. Tournaments like these are helping us get our stamina back."

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Runner-up Strempfl too agreed it is the best form of training during the worldwide shutdown. "I am glad we can do this. I think it is the best training that I can get now and I feel very happy that I can do it. In Austria, I don't know why we do not have competitions like these. But then again, I don't want to miss the original World Cups too, so maybe we can bring it together."

WHAT THEY SAID

Sanjeev Rajput: Pressure is definitely there, but it is not high. In a live competition, there would have been a lot of people sitting behind you.

Martin Strempfl: I think it is a little different, the competition here and the competition at the range. It is not easy to find the perfect lights at home or other things but I felt good that I could get good results.

Former India pistol coach Csaba Gyorik: I am sure this is a different psychological equation for the athletes but this is the best that they can get now. The ISSF is already thinking about it (online contests) and will use technology to take steps forward, whenever it can.

Amanpreet Singh: The match was very well-organised but the duration of the final got stretched quite a bit. These are some issues which will creep in if the match is online.

Shimon Sharif: We need better technology for everyone when it comes to finals. We are just starting this and everything is being done very manually.

 

Olympian Karmakar concurred with Strempfl, saying, "The situation now shows us that technology is so vital to connect people. Shimon is currently doing this on a shoestring budget but imagine if this gets attention and a lot of complicated tech... maybe, a single server! It cannot be done overnight. If you see the yearly schedule, it is not enough. If you want to be relevant, you need to have more competitions. Why not a parallel system with the physical sport? It will give the sport the necessary impetus and the money as well."

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There is still some distance to cover as far as accessibility to required gizmo for markspersons is concerned. National pistol coach Jaspal Rana had said last month that efforts were being made to courier shooting range simulators - SIUS Ascor’s electronic target systems - to allow India shooters to practice indoors during the lockdown.

While pistol shooter Anish Bhanwala received it only two days ago, teen sensations Manu Bhaker and Mehuli Ghosh missed the online contest after they had glitches cropping up on their SCATTs and targets.

Mehuli, who was there as a spectator, said, "I think in the near future, online tournaments can be done. Everyone can get to participate from their home or range... wherever they want. For now, there are difficulties, but I am sure those issues will be sorted out and it will be a great competition to look forward to."

In the 10m air pistol event, Scotland's Lucy Evans finished third, the only woman bronze medalist thus far in the online shooting championship. The last time women participants competed with their male counterparts in a major tournament was at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona.

Reacting to this, Anish remarked, "Women are stronger than us. They can compete with all their might and can finish with higher scores than us in the same event. So, why not?"

BRIEF SCORES

10m Air Rifle Finals 1. Sanjeev Rajput (IND) 252.6; 2. Martin Strempfl (AUT) 251.7; 3. Etienne Germond (FRA) 230.1; 4. Yash Vardhan (IND) 208.9; 5. Divyansh Singh Panwar (IND) 186.1; 6. Nachiketh Praveen (IND) 164.8; 7. Nagybanyai-Nagy Anna (HUN) 138.8; 8. Homanshika Reddy (IND) 0

10m Air Pistol Finals 1. Shahzar Rizvi (IND) 241.7; 2. Amanpreet Singh (IND) 241.5; 3. Lucy Evans (SCO) 214.9; 4. Emilia Faulkner (SCO) 195.8; 5. Laszlo Hegedus (HUN) 176.2; 6. Anish Bhanwala (IND) 156.6; 7. Klaudia Palanki (HUN) 136; 8. Gaurav Rana (IND) 108.6

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