Just like the previous editions of the Olympic Games, India will be expecting its biggest medal harvest in Shooting. The Indian shooters have been dominant and performing exceptionally well in the ISSF World Cups. With shooters like Sourabh Choudhary, Manu Bhaker, Divyansh Singh Panwar, Abhishek Verma and Anjum Moudgil all performing well in the lead up to the Tokyo Olympics, the shooters are the best bet to win multiple medals in the Tokyo Olympics.
10m Women’s Air Rifle
Anjum Moudgil has been in the shooting circuit for quite some time now, and after her disappointments of Rio 2016, the 27-year-old will look to stake a claim in the biggest stage of all come July 2021. A Commonwealth Games silver medalist in 2018 in 50m Rifle 3 Positions, and a double silver medalist in the 2018 World Championships, Moudgil has time and again shown her mettle on the global stage and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics gives her the perfect opportunity to right the wrong of her horror showing in Rio 2016.
Apurvi Chandela made her senior debut in 2012 by winning the gold medal in the 10m air rifle event at the National Championships in New Delhi. Now in the 10th year of her shooting career, the 28-year-old has won three gold medals in the ISSF World Cups, a gold and a bronze medal in the Commonwealth Games and a bronze medal in the 2018 Asian Games. Filled with bags of experience, Apurvi Chandela can be the dark horse in Women’s 10m air rifle shooting.
10m Men’s Air Rifle
Divyansh Singh Panwar
A rifle shooter from the state of Rajasthan, Divyansh Singh Panwar is an 18-year-old prodigy who has taken the world of shooting by storm. Apart from winning the 2019 ISSF World Cup gold medal and the 2018 ISSF Junior World Cup gold medal, Divyansh has won three more gold medals, a silver and two bronze in the team events. Panwar is currently ranked number 2 in the Tokyo 2020 rankings, and world number 3 in the 2021 World Rankings, and will enter 2020 Tokyo Olympics as India’s best shooter in Men’s 10m Air Rifle.
India’s veteran shooter and 2018 Asian Games silver medalist, Deepak Kumar sealed his Olympic quota for India by winning the bronze medal in November last year in the 10m Men’s Air Rifle event at the 14th Asian Shooting Championships held in Doha, Qatar. The 33-year-old Air Force shooter had a few anxious moments in the lead up to the Tokyo Olympics as he had to undergo a minor surgery due to a persisting skin ailment. Along with the favourite Divyansh Singh Panwar, Deepak will be hoping for an improved showing from the Indian shooters.
50m Women’s Rifle 3 Position
At 40, India’s oldest and most experienced female shooter Tejaswini Sawant shone through for the first time with her two gold medals in the 2006 Commonwealth Games. Since then, she has won two silver medals and a bronze at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi and won a gold medal and a silver in the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Though she is not among the frontrunners for a spot on the podium, one can never count out the wealth of experience she has amassed over the years and can’t be ruled out for the Tokyo Olympics.
50m Men’s Rifle 3 Position
Just like Tejaswini, Sanjeev Rajput is 40 years old and has bags of experience and titles to back his credentials for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. His recent gold medal at the 2021 ISSF World Cups held in New Delhi puts him in good stead ahead of the Olympics. The veteran has won everything there’s to be won in Men’s shooting except for that elusive Olympic medal. With form and experience on the right side of the argument, Sanjeev is one to watch when the Olympics kick starts on 23 July.
Aishwarya Pratap Singh Tomar
Coached by former Olympian Suma Shirur, Aishwarya Pratap Singh Tomar has been a breath of fresh air in the 50m Rifle 3 Positions discipline. Though India has dominated the scenes in the Commonwealth and Asian Games, the 50m Rifle 3 Positions contingent for the Olympics has always been disappointing, to say the least. Since winning his maiden ISSF Junior World Cup gold in 2019, the 20-year-old hasn’t looked back since. In the 2021 ISSF World Cup held in New Delhi, Tomar won a gold medal in the 50m Rifle 3 Positions individual event and a silver medal in the 10m air rifle men’s team event. With his form and confidence on an all-time high, India’s wait for that medal in the 50m discipline might end come July.
10m Women’s Air Pistol
This 19-year-old teenager is India’s best bet for gold in women’s shooting. Since making her Junior’s debut with three gold medals in the 2018 ISSF Junior World Cup, Manu has never looked back. In the next three years, Manu has gone on to win a gold medal in the 2018 Commonwealth Games, two golds in the 2019 Asian Airgun Championships, two golds in the 2019 ISSF World Cup Final and an astonishing seven gold medals (and a silver) in the ISSF World Cups. Manu Bhaker is currently ranked world number 2 in both the Tokyo 2020 Rankings and the 2021 World Rankings. Given the way she has taken over the world of pistol shooting, Manu walks into the Tokyo Olympics as the firm favourite to grab a gold medal.
Yeshaswini Singh Deswal
Unlike some of the other shooters, Yeshaswini has been a late bloomer. The 24-year-old secured her quota position for India by winning the gold medal in the 10m Air Pistol event at the 2019 ISSF World Cup in Rio de Janeiro, while also winning the silver medal in the mixed team event. Although her lack of achievements might put some doubt regarding her claim for a medal at Tokyo, Deswal defeated Olena Kostevych, a former Olympic and world champion, in the final round – no mean feat for any shooter. The 24-year-old might spring a surprise or two on her day.
10m Men’s Air Pistol
Saurabh is one of India’s brightest prospects to snatch gold at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The 19-year-old won the gold medal at the 2018 Asian Games in 10m Air Pistol, becoming India’s youngest gold medalist at the Asian Games. Since then, there’s been no stopping the teenager. Saurabh has won five gold medals at the ISSF World Cups and sealed his Olympics qualification place by winning the gold medal at the ISSF World Cup in New Delhi in 2019.
Unlike the other shooters in India’s shooting contingent, Abhishek took up shooting very late in his life. Since then, the 31-year-old has won three golds, two bronze and one silver at the ISSF World Cups, while also being ranked number 1 in the Tokyo 2020 rankings and world number 3 in 2021 World Rankings. Competing alongside Saurabh Choudhary in the 10m Air Pistol category, don’t be surprised if you see the two of them sharing the podium at Tokyo.
25m Women’s Pistol
Rahi Sarnobat has been a benchmark for women in the 25m Pistol category in India. After becoming the first Indian shooter to win a gold medal in the World Cup when she won the 25m pistol event in the ISSF World Cup in Changwon, she won gold at the Commonwealth Games in 2014, followed by another bronze medal in the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon. After an injury caused by an accident in 2015 sidelined her for nearly two years, Rahi made it back to the Indian National team in 2017. In 2018, she became the first Indian woman to become an individual Asian Games gold medalist in shooting. Rahi’s gold medal at the Munich World Cup event in 2019 sealed her spot for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The 21-year-old, Elavenil Valarivan, was a late entrant in the Indian shooting contingent. Replacing Chinki Yadav in the 25m Women’s Pistol discipline, Elavenil mainly competes in the 10m air rifle event. Valarivan rose to fame with her performances at the ISSF Junior World Cup in 2018. Although she was not the one who won the quota for India, it is her consistency over the last couple of years that she was accommodated into the squad. The 21-year-old is currently ranked number 1 in the Tokyo 2020 Rankings and world number 12 in the 2021 World Rankings, thus a medal should not be out of the equation given her form and consistency over the last two years.
Angad Vir Singh Bajwa
The 25-year-old is the Skeet Finals world record holder with a score of 60 out of 60. After a disappointing 2018 Asian Games where he failed to make it to the final round, Angad booked his place for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics by winning the 2019 Asian Shooting Championships. He overcame fellow Indian Mairaj Ahmad Khan in the shoot-off to win his second consecutive gold medal while also winning silver in the mixed team event, in the same competition. At the 2021 ISSF World Cup held in New Delhi, Angad with his teammates Mairaj Ahmad Khan and Gurjoat Siingh Khangura won the gold medal in Men’s Skeet Team event.
Mairaj Ahmad Khan
The oldest shooter from the Indian shooting contingent, Mairaj Ahmad Khan, at 45, will be participating in his second Olympic Games after becoming the first Indian to qualify in this discipline for Rio 2016. Since starting his journey in the international circuit in 2003, Mairaj has won multiple accolades, including medals won during the Commonwealth Shooting Championships, Asian Championships, South Asian Federation and National and International Championships. Mairaj booked his place for the Tokyo Olympics by winning the silver medal in the 2019 Asian Shooting Championships. The 45-year-old is currently ranked number 10 in the world and 6th in Asia. Although a long shot, a podium finish for either of the two is not impossible.