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2-min read

Asian Games 2018: Teenagers Target Asiad Glory

Indian shooters suffered a major setback when organisers of the 18th Asian Games trimmed several of their events for the competition in Jakarta-Palembang. All team events have been done away with, along with traditional Asian Games events like the 50m Rifle Prone, 50m Air Pistol, 25m Centre Fire Pistol and 25m Standard Pistol.

Abhimanyu Sen | News18 Sports

Updated:August 17, 2018, 8:12 PM IST
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Indian shooters suffered a major setback when organisers of the 18th Asian Games trimmed several of their events for the competition in Jakarta-Palembang. All team events have been done away with, along with traditional Asian Games events like the 50m Rifle Prone, 50m Air Pistol, 25m Centre Fire Pistol and 25m Standard Pistol.

The excluded events are all non-Olympic events, but it’s going to hit India hard. At the 2014 Asian Games, India had won nine medals including one gold. Seven of those events have been dropped this time around.

Double trap, meanwhile, which is no longer an Olympic discipline, has been included for the Asiad, as has the Rifle 300m 3 Position, an event that Army Marksmen specialize in, possibly because the range was ready quite early, and also because Indonesia’s military base is known to be a strong one.

That leaves us then with a squad that’s fairly young, with teenagers like Manu Bhaker, Anish Bhanwala and Elavanil Valarivan, who will be accompanied by the more seasoned Sanjeev Rajput, Heena Sidhu and Manavjit Singh Sandhu.

With the team events scrapped, the youngsters will have to face the might of China, Japan and Korea. “The Asian Games is like a second Olympics for us,” says Olympian Anjali Bhagwat. “But they are young, and the thing with youth is that you have nothing to lose. Like at the Sydney Olympics, I was young, and I ended up reaching the final. All I can say is that a medal from the Asian Games can almost guarantee you a place at the Olympic final.”

Junior national coach Jaspal Rana though is unhappy with the attention on the youngsters, and wants them to be left alone. "These young guns are a rare talent but they are not yet ready for the highest level,” the former Asiad gold medallist recently told PTI. “They have won gold medals in Junior World Cup but their scores are not enough for even a bronze at the senior level. They should be given ample time to hone their skills. CWG and Asian Games are important but your preparation has to be from Olympics to Olympics.”

While Rana’s word of caution puts things into perspective, the shooters will want to make the most of the Asiad opportunity to prepare for the ISSF World Championships which also offer Olympic quotas.

India’s marksmen and women start their campaign in Indonesia on Sunday. Manu Bhaker and Abhishek Verma will compete in the 10m Air Pistol Mixed Team event, while Apurvi Chandela and Ravi Kumar will feature in the 10m Air Rifle Mixed Team event. Both are medal events.

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| Edited by: Arjit Dabas
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