New Delhi, Sep 17 (SocialNews.XYZ) Shooters have earned for India the joint-second highest number of medals in the history of the Asian Games -- bagging 57 medals, including nine gold.
It's the same as boxing, which too has garnered 57 medals, including nine gold, for India in the continental extravaganza. However, India's profile in shooting has risen in the last couple of decades with success in a variety of disciplines of pistol, air rifle and shotgun, unlike the initial success in trap by Karni Singh and Randhir Singh in the 70s.
Randhir Singh was the first Indian shooter to win Asian Games gold and the legacy was continued by the likes of Jaspal Rana, Gagan Narang, Samresh Jung, Vijay Kumar, Soma Dutta, Anjali Bhagat and Rahi Sarnobat.
A young crop of shooters took the legacy forward at the 2018 Games in Jakarta when Saurabh Chaudhary became India's youngest gold medallist in the Games, having triumphed in the men's 10m air pistol at the age 16 years and 101 days.
Considering the recent strides by the young Indian shooters in the World Championships and World Cups, India should expect a good haul of medals by the shooters in the Hangzhou Asian Games, set to start on September 23 in the Chinese city.
Though the Indian shooters can't expect a huge haul at the Asian Games like they do in the Commonwealth Games, it should still be substantial as a good performance in Hangzhou will add another feather to India's recent success.
A total of 21 shooters – 11 in pistol and 10 in rifle – will be representing the country in Hangzhou. Olympians Manu Bhaker, and Divyansh Singh Panwar as well as reigning men’s 10m air rifle champion Rudrankksh Balasaheb Patil are in the Indian shooting team
In the men’s 10m air rifle, India will be represented by Divyansh Singh Panwar, Aishwary Pratap Singh Tomar, and Rudrankksh Patil.
In women’s 10m air rifle, Ramita, Mehuli Ghosh and Ashi Chouksey hunt for medals while in Men’s 50m rifle 3-position, India's hopes rest on Aishwary Pratap Singh Tomar, Swapnil Kusale, Akhil Sheoran.
In women’s 50m rifle 3-position, Sift Kaur Samra, Ashi Chouksey, and Manini Kaushik will represent the country.
Sarabjot Singh, Shiva Narwal, and Arjun Singh Cheema will participate in Men’s 10m air pistol while in women’s 10m air pistol, Divya TS, Esha Singh, and Palak will hope for medals.
Among all the sports in which India will participate in the Hangzhou Asian Games, shooting will be the one with high hopes.
In the previous edition of the Games in 2018, India won two gold, four silver, and three bronze medals to finish third in the overall tally as perennial powers in shooting, South Korea, and China topped the table.
China's domination of the Asian Games is quite evident and no sport displays this better than shooting in which China has held the sway from many editions.
The young crop of Indian shooting like Rudrankksh Patil and Mehuli Ghosh, along with other talented shooters, will try to end the Chinese hegemony, though it may be easier said than, especially as China will be hoping to reap the rewards of competition at home.
India’s best shooting performance at the Asian Games came in 2006 when the team combined to win three gold, five silver, and six bronze medals for a total of 14.
India medal hopes (Men’s):
At the recently-concluded International Shooting Sports Federation (ISSF) World Championships, Rudrankksh Balasaheb Patil, the 19-year-old claimed gold and also secured an Olympic quota in 10m Air Riffle Men. In the men's 10m air rifle competition, Rudrankksh Balasaheb Patil will be India's biggest hope for a top podium finish at the Asian Games.
Aishwary Pratap Singh Tomar and Divyansh Singh Panwar will also fire for India in the men's 10m air rifle category. Divyansh brought home the silver medal and Tomar the gold in the 10m air rifle event at the 2023 World University Games in Chengdu, China.
Aishwary will face tough competition from China’s Yu Haonan who holds the world record.
The men's 50 m rifle 3-positions squad appears to be strong. Swapnil Kusale will be vying for a medal in this competition. Not to mention, last year, he helped India qualify for the Paris Olympics. A strong medal contender alongside him is Akhil Sheoran, who took home bronze (and an Olympic quota) at the 2023 ISSF World Championships in Baku.
Additionally, Aishwary Pratap Singh Tomar will also take part in this competition.
Sarabjot Singh, Shiva Narwal, and Arjun Singh Cheema will compete for their nation in the men's 10-meter air pistol competition. With his victory at the ISSF World Cup 2023 in Bhopal, Sarabjot stands out among them as a bright player.
The other two shooters will want to make an impression at the Asian Games. They are both accomplished shooters.
The young team that has been selected to compete in the men's 25m rapid-fire pistol looks good as well. Vijayveer Sidhu, Adarsh Singh, and Anish Bhanwala are on the final list. In addition, competing against other great shooters will provide them with excellent exposure.
India medal hopes (Women’s):
The women's 10m air rifle team will be led by Mehuli Ghosh at the Asian Games. She won a bronze medal and secured an Olympic qualification for India in the recently held ISSF World Championships in Baku (Azerbaijan).
Ghosh will face a tough challenge from China’s Han Jiyau who won the gold medal in the ISSF World Shooting Championships 2023 and also holds the world record.
In the women's 50m rifle 3-positions event, Sift Kaur Samra, also performed well at the ISSF World Championships 2023, claiming an Olympic spot for the country.
The women's 25m sports pistol squad will be commanded by Manu Bhaker. The 21-year-old captured bronze in the 25-meter pistol event at the 2023 World Cup in Bhopal. She competed at the Tokyo Olympics, where she got a lot of experience, and was a medal contender in this competition. The 25m sports pistol squad also includes Rhythm Sangwan and Esha Singh.
Emerging shooters like Esha Singh, Divya TS, and Palak Gulia are part of the women's 10m air pistol squad. Esha Singh will work especially hard to do well at the Asiad after winning silver in the 10m air pistol event at the 2022 World Cup in Cairo.
Additionally, India will be a medal contender in the mixed team events for the air rifle (Divyansh Singh Panwar and Ramita; Aishwary Pratap Singh Tomar and Mehuli Ghosh); and the air pistol (Sarabjot Singh and Divya TS; Shiva Narwal and Esha Singh).