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World Championship 2018: What it Meant for Indian shooters’ Quest for Tokyo 2020

Olympic fans in India, who had been immensely disappointed by Indian shooters ‘dismal’ performance in Rio 2016, were eagerly awaiting the start of this new cycle. However, yet again, there wasn’t much for them to celebrate as far as Olympic qualification was concerned. Analyzed below are a few takeaways on what this World Championship meant for Indian shooters quest for Tokyo 2020:

Vaibhav Manocha |

Updated:September 18, 2018, 10:59 AM IST
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World Championship 2018: What it Meant for Indian shooters’ Quest for Tokyo 2020
Twitter/ Rajyavardhan Rathore
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There has been an understandable euphoria around the success of the Indian shooting contingent in the recently concluded Changwon World Championship, buoyed by a few headline grabbing performances. As was anticipated by a few, this was led by new age junior shooters whose fearless efforts drove them to various podium finishes one after another. This World Championship also marked the beginning of Tokyo 2020 cycle as it was first of many Olympic qualification tournaments where shooters could book quota places.

Olympic fans in India, who had been immensely disappointed by Indian shooters ‘dismal’ performance in Rio 2016, were eagerly awaiting the start of this new cycle. However, yet again, there wasn’t much for them to celebrate as far as Olympic qualification was concerned. Analyzed below are a few takeaways on what this World Championship meant for Indian shooters quest for Tokyo 2020:

Anjum Moudgil is a definitive yes for Tokyo 2020…

Women’s 10m air rifle is one of the most fiercely competed events in the world of shooting. In the ISSF Munich world cup, held earlier this year in May, it was contested by an astonishing 182 women shooters – highest across all events, for both men and women. Fortunately, among a growing crop of world class shooters in India, women in 10m air rifle also represent the best talent pool in the country. Going by national rankings, Apurvi Chandela, Elavenil Valarivan, and Mehuli Ghosh are the top three shooters, who have showcased extraordinarily performances this year, winning prestigious medals, breaching the massive barrier of 630 along the way (for perspective, top qualifier in men’s 10m air rifle at Rio Olympics 2016 had scored 630.2). All three keeping their eyes firmly on making it to Tokyo 2020.

So when Anjum Moudgil surprised one and all with her quota winning silver medal performance in 10m air rifle in Changwon, it created an unprecedented situation for Indian shooting which only a few would have thought. Quotas in shooting belong to National Olympic Committees (NOCs) and can be used to send the best performing athletes, regardless of who wins them. NRAI (Shooting Federation of India) also has a selection system in place to decide which shooters get to represent these quotas at Tokyo Olympics. But considering Anjum’s specialization in two rifle events, her ticket for Tokyo 2020 appears to be reserved already. As per ISSF’s Olympic qualification rulebook, Anjum’s quota in 10m air rifle also allows her to compete in 50m 3 position rifle, an event she holds expertise in, thus making her selection a no-brainer. For the record, she has been among the most consistent 50m 3 position shooters in the world this year – qualifying for finals in two world cups and finishing outside top 10 only once. She is definitely the one to watch out for in this Tokyo 2020 cycle. It would be interesting to see who among Apurvi, Elavenil, and Mehuli get selected for another quota.

Trivia: Previous two rifle shooters from India to have won quota along with a medal at World Championships were Abhinav Bindra (Gold, 2006) and Gagan Narang (Bronze, 2010) – who also won the same medal at subsequent Olympics in Beijing and London, respectively.

Long but bright road ahead for the rest…

Much has been talked about significant improvement in medal tally from 2 medals in Grenada World Championship (2014) to 27 in Changwon (2018) but when it came to Olympic events, not much has changed. In Grenada, three Indian shooters made it to the finals of Olympic events and collected only a single medal along with quota. Four years later, in Changwon, these numbers are now changed to four qualification in finals, a lone medal and two quota places. Progression, but only marginal!

Looking towards the road ahead, expectations are still higher than before. And there are enough reasons for Indian shooting fans to be optimistic about. Beginning next year, Dr. Karni Singh Shooting range in New Delhi is set to host the first of series of world cups with quota availability, where home conditions should favor Indian shooters. Additionally, shooters from Asian powerhouse, China and Korea, have already taken bag full of Olympic quotas at Changwon World Championships, which provides opportunity for other countries in the region to obtain quotas at Asian Championships, to be held in Qatar later in 2019. Going by performances put in by Indian shooters at Asian Games, it wouldn’t be a surprise if we exceed 13 quotas grabbed for Rio Olympics.

Trivia: India has never won more than two quotas in an ISSF World Championship, and yet, has clinched 10+ quotas in last three Olympic Games.
| Edited by: Abhimanyu Sen
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