In pursuit of Olympic quota place, Ravi Kumar looks to push harder

The major pursuit for Ravi Kumar before the Olympics is the quota place for Tokyo 2020.

Ravi Kumar, the three-time National champion is focussed on winning a quota place for Tokyo Olympics 2020.   -  Kamesh Srinivasan

The three-time National champion in men’s air rifle, Ravi Kumar is the undisputed No.1 in the country. After the phenomenal success of former World and Olympic champion Abhinav Bindra and Gagan Narang’s consistent success across all levels in the event, Indian men’s air rifle has not been able to make a buzz on the world stage.

Deepak Kumar did win the Asian Games silver to arrest the widening gap, but Ravi Kumar missed a medal by finishing fourth.

In the World Championship in Changwon, Ravi Kumar finished placed 28th with a score of 625.4. He had set high hopes for the two World Cups in Guadalajara and Changwon earlier in the season, when his score went up to 629.1.

"I had high hopes in the World Championship, but could not live up to it. Rising to the challenge in a tough situation is the job of the athlete. The season has been good overall," said Ravi, after performing well in the two selection trials, to retain his No. 1 status.

He had trouble with his equipment in the World Championship, and Ravi has been busy getting used to the new apparel.

Read: 'Tactics help in getting the best out of a shooter'

He has, in fact, opted to compete in Germany and the Netherlands, so as to give himself more experience with the new equipment before the World Cup at home in Delhi in February, that offers the next set of quota places for the Tokyo Olympics.

"The European tour is to help me gain more experience for shooting a competitive final. The Word Championship taught me a lesson that it was not enough hard work on my part, and I have to put more effort to win on the world stage," said Ravi, who won the bronze in the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, apart from the mixed bronze in the Asian Games with Apurvi Chandela.

The 27-year-old Junior Warrant Officer in the Indian Air Force (IAF), was vehement in emphasising the remarkable coaching and mental support from Manoj Kumar over the years, as much as the moral and technical support from Abhinav Bindra, whose High Performance Centre in Chandigarh has helped many athlete to regain best physical shape for optimum performance.

Apart from Indian Air Force, Ravi gets support from the Olympic Gold Quest (OGQ) and being part of the government’s scheme for Target Olympic Podium (TOPS), he is in the best position to plan his training and competitive exposure.

Overall, he is happy with the way the standard has been set, even though he gets to see the young shooters like Divyansh Singh Panwar overtake him both in qualification and finals.

"The scores are improving among our shooters. I am giving them a tough ground to fight. Defending the national title second time was a great experience, and a good sign for my future. Fighting for gold in a national championship is always a tough task and I am thrilled to have cleared it a third time," said Ravi, about his triumph in Kerala.

The major pursuit before the Olympics is the quota place for Tokyo 2020.

"I hope to win the quota as early as possible. I am gearing for it. Rest, the day will decide," he said.

In an unending season, the next competition for Ravi will be the tenth Lakshya Cup organised by the former Asian champion and world record holder, Suma Shirur, for the top-20 men and women, in Mumbai on December 31.

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