Rio de Janeiro: With the world’s biggest sporting extravaganza, the 2016 Summer Olympics, having just got under way, India will aim to better their earlier performance and the onus will lie to a large extent on the country’s shooting contingent.
Shooting as a sport has been a part of the modern Games right from their inception, except in 1904 and 1928, and with time, it has attained great heights with participants from around the globe making their mark. It will be no different in Rio as the Indian shooters will aim to carry the tricolour as high as possible and register as many medals as they can to give India’s Olympic campaign a flying start. The men will be participating in a range of events, starting from 50m rifle 3 positions, 50m rifle prone, 10m air rifle, 50m pistol, 25m rapid fire pistol, 10m air pistol, shotgun, trap, double trap and skeet.
The women will be taking part in 50m rifle 3 positions, 10m air rifle, 25m pistol, 10m air pistol and trap and skeet. The biggest and by far the best bet for India to dream about a gold at the Olympics would be ace shooter Abhinav Bindra. His 2008 Beijing Olympics gold medal is the only top individual honour by an Indian at the Olympics and he remains a strong medal prospect this time as well. He also won the gold medal at the ISSF World Shooting Championship in 2006, and another gold at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Gagan Narang, another star shooter, is also a strong medal contender. He had claimed a bronze at the London Games and will look for gold this time. Star shooter Jitu Rai is also in with a strong chance to win a medal in the men’s 50m and 10m pistol events. He will make his Olympic debut in Rio. He won a gold medal in the 10m air rifle event at the ISSF World Cup earlier this year.
The 25-year-old has been in good form in the 50m pistol event lately and Indian fans can expect him to come out with flying colours in the event at the Olympics as well. Jitu will make his maiden appearance in the Games and will be raring to make his Olympic debut a dream one. In the men’s trap event, the 39-year-old Manavjit Singh Sandhu will appear in his fourth Olympics. The former World No.1 claimed a bronze in the Mexico World Cup in March last year and a gold medal at the ISSF World Championship in Zagreb, Croatia, in 2006.
But he has yet to win an Olympic medal and will hope to be fourth time lucky. In the women’s category, Heena Sindhu remains the best bet to win a medal. She holds the world record in the 10m air pistol event. Indian fans can surely expect a medal from her. Apart from the Indians, South Korea’s Jim Jong-oh remains the strongest contender considering his five medals in the 2012 London Games. He is the top-ranked shooter in the world in the men’s 50m pistol event. –IANS
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