My pistol will do all the talking at Olympic qualifiers: Omkar Singh

Image Credit: IBNLive Sports.

Image Credit: IBNLive Sports.

The 2010 Commonwealth Games silver medallist is one of the contenders for a quota place in the 10-metre air pistol event at the coming Olympics and is determined to bag it in Delhi at the Asian meet beginning Jan 25.

Omkar Singh's dream of winning an Olympic berth for the country met a mini setback when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided to strip the Asian Shooting Championship in Kuwait of its status as a qualifying tournament for Rio 2016. But that has only doubled the Indian shooter's hunger of winning an Olympic medal for the country.

The 2010 Commonwealth Games silver medallist is one of the contenders for a quota place in the 10-metre air pistol event at the coming Olympics and is determined to bag it in Delhi at the Asian meet beginning Jan 25.

"Honestly, I was disappointed for just a few minutes and after that I was happy, because I had got more time to train and polish myself for the qualifying tournament. I also got time to work on my basic techniques. The decision also increased my hunger of winning a quota place. Now I am just looking forward to the tournament. Our camp has already started and I am waiting for the day when I will enter the [Karni Singh] range and shoot," Omkar told IBNLive in an interview.

"It was their [IOC] decision to strip the championship [in Kuwait] as an Olympic qualifier, and I respect that. My job will remain the same - shoot the best and win a medal for India," He added.

Omkar finished eighth at the Asian Shooting Championship in Kuwait and would have bagged a quota berth had the event not been stripped of its status of an Olympic qualifier.

"I am happy with my performance in Kuwait. Had it remained an Olympic qualifying tournament, which was unfortunately revoked, I would have won the quota place with this eighth-place finish. But whatever happens, it is for good," the shooter said.

However, Omkar admitted that IOC's last-minute decision has, to a degree, increased the pressure.

"I am working hard for this now. I got around two-month time for training and practice. I am doing training twice a day and spending more time in gym and running. Just one goal is on my mind – winning an Olympic quota. I am hungry for it," the shooter reiterated.

Omkar needs to score 580 or above to secure a ticket to Rio for the 10-metre air pistol event.

"My best score till date is 587, which I scored in the Delhi Commonwealth Games, and I expect to shoot close to this score in Delhi. Anything above 580 should be enough to get into the finals," he said.

Omkar, who had won three gold medals and a silver medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games held in Delhi, will be shooting along with Aman Pathania and Jitendra Vibhute in the 10m air pistol event at the Asia Olympic Qualifying Competition at Karni Singh Shooting Range.

"Winning an Olympic quota on motherland will be really special. You are aware of the conditions, the atmosphere and people around you. Nothing can match that feeling of being victorious in your own country and in front of your people. I want to feel that moment," a confident Omkar said.

"I see very strong chances of winning a quota. The way I have been doing training and preparing, I think I will win the quota for my country. I want to let my pistol, not words, do the talking at the range.

"I have been going in camps. I have attended a 50-day camp in Sydney and also a 15-day camp in Germany. Both were amazing experiences and helped me a lot. I haven’t attended any special training yet. The first priority is to win a quota place for the country. If I will be able to do that, I will go for special training. There will be a couple of months to train ahead of the Olympics and that should be good enough," Omkar said.

But even if he bags an Olympic quota, the decision on who to send in a particular category rests with the country's federation.

"It will be totally federation’s decision. Whether it is me or someone else who wins the quota, it is the federation who will decide on who to send. They have Olympic selection policies and they decide according to that. They will oversee a shooter’s performance in the previous tournaments and the qualifying tournament too and then decide. But I am not focusing on this. My job is to shoot and let the selection job be with the federation."

India have so far won eight Olympic berths in shooting with Jitu Rai, Abhinav Bindra, Gagan Narang, Apurvi Chandela, Gurpreet Singh, Prakash Nanjappa, Chain Singh and Mairaj Khan.

Among the women shooters from India, Shweta Choudary, Heena Sidhu and Yashaswini Deswal will be fighting it out in the 10-metre air pistol event, while Anuraj Singh, Heena Sidhu and Gauri Sheoran will compete in the 25-metre pistol event.

Speaking on India's chances of winning medals in Rio, Omkar said: "We have a bright chance of winning medals this time. We started winning in 2004 when Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore gave India an Olympic Silver. Then we had Abhinav, who won gold in 2008 (Beijing Olympics), Gagan [Narang] won a bronze in 2012 (London Olympics) and Vijay [Kumar] won silver in the same edition. They are our inspiration. Currently Gagan, Abhinav and Apurvi [Chandela] are shooting world class. There are other shooters too who have done amazing in the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games. If they continue their winning performances in Rio, we will have a good medal haul in shooting.

"I am confident that shooters will shine in the Rio Games."