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Sumeet Sanghavi (front) joins a medal ceremony. ©Facebook/Sumeet Sanghavi

Olympic Games News

India’s shooters on target for medals at Tokyo 2020

Date : 05 Dec 2019

Kathmandu, Nepal, December 5, 2019: India’s shooters at Tokyo 2020 must focus on the bullseye and not visualise dollar signs if the country is to win medals next year, according to a top coach at the 13th South Asian Games in Kathmandu and Pokhara.

“As a country, India has grown in confidence in shooting and are genuine contenders for gold medals at the Tokyo Olympics. The pressure will only come if the athletes think of the big prize money and endorsements they will get from winning Olympic medals,” said Sumeet Sanghavi, pistol shooting coach of the Indian national junior team.

Indian gold medallists at the Tokyo Olympics are in line to get US$150,000 as a cash incentive from the government and also rake in endorsements amounting to ten times the prize money. Badminton star PV Sindhu has received US$1.5 million in endorsements after winning a silver medal in Rio 2016.

“It is big money. If they start seeing dollar signs and thinking about the riches to come then it might create unwanted pressure. Our shooters are now world-beaters. They are winning on the ISSF circuit and they are riding a wave of confidence. But this must be tempered and they must keep their feet on the ground,” Sanghavi said.

Great expectations can also create hurdles – as it did in Rio when India’s marksmen returned empty-handed. India has won one gold, two silver medals and a bronze in Olympic history. Abhinav Bindra’s gold medal in the Men’s 10m Air Pistol at 2008 Beijing was the first Olympic gold medal for India in any sport outside hockey.

“Shooting is a mental sport. The weight of expectations was too much at the last Olympics and that is why we failed to win even a bronze. However, now I believe our shooters have grown much more in confidence. They are winning regularly on the international stage and they should just regard the Olympics as another meet. And, yes, forget about the money,” Sanghavi smiles.

India has sent its second-string to Kathmandu with the seniors being given a much-needed break after a hectic season during which they have collectively won 15 Olympic quotas for Tokyo – the highest by an Asian country next to China.

Yet, the 25-strong shooting squad is going great guns at the Satdobato Sports Complex having picked up four gold medals, four silvers and a bronze on the opening day.

“We are hoping to get one more Olympic quota in men’s 25m rapid fire pistol and the person to watch out for is teenager Anish Bhanwala, who is a huge talent,” Sanghavi pointed out.

Bhanwala, part of the shooting squad in Kathmandu, was only 15 when he became India’s youngest gold medallist at the Commonwealth Games, winning the 25m rapid fire pistol event in a meet record, in Australia’s Gold Coast last year.

“I hope to go to the Olympics. But first I have to focus on these Games,” grinned Bhanwala before his qualification round on Thursday.

The Haryana-born Bhanwala will be in the fray in March at the ISSF World Cup event in Delhi, targeting that last Olympic quota.

“Winning 15 qualifying berths in shooting at the Olympics is a record already. We have never won so many quota places. Yes, Indian shooting is on a high and should do well in Tokyo next year,” Sanghavi predicted.

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