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India's shooting brigade which won 9 medals at 2018 Asian Games - Where are they now?

India's 2018 Asian Games performance in Shooting, led by Saurabh Chaudhary and Rahi Sarnobat's gold medals, was the 2nd best ever. Five years on, none of the 10 medallists are in the Indian shooting team.

Indias shooting brigade which won 9 medals at 2018 Asian Games - Where are they now?

Heena Sidhu, Shardul Vihan and Rahi Sarnobat


The Bridge Desk

Updated: 12 Sep 2023 2:50 PM GMT

The success of India's shooting team had been one of the standout stories of the 2018 Asian Games. However, five years since then, none of the 10 Indian medallists from that team are part of the 30-member shooting team selected for the Hangzhou Asian Games, set to begin from September 23, 2023.

At the 2018 Asian Games, India's shooting contingent had won a total of 9 medals - 2 gold, 4 silver, 3 bronze. It was the second most successful edition for Indian shooters after the Jaspal-Rana led gold rush in 2006.

Rahi Sarnobat became the first Indian woman to win an Asian Games gold in shooting. 15-year-old Shardul Vihan became the youngest shooter to win an Asian Games medal. Saurabh Chaudhary's gold medal in 10m Pistol, India's first in that discipline, was part of a medal surge won by a new generation of shooters, which included Shardul and Lakshay Sheoran.

India were third on the shooting medal tally behind only China and South Korea last time. Here's a look at the current status of all those who were responsible for this finish last time:

Bronze Medallists

Abhishek Verma (10m pistol)

While not among the youth brigade, Abhishek Verma was still part of a new generation of shooters emerging at the 2018 Asian Games as he had been a late starter. The Asiad medal was his first major international medal. In 2019, his gold medal winning performance at the 2019 Beijing ISSF World Cup helped him secure a berth at the Tokyo Olympics. At the Olympics, he could only secure a 17-th place finish and was one of big names omitted from the national team after the Olympics.

Having struggled to regain form since the Olympics disappointment, the 33-year-old Verma was placed 6th in the national trials in June 2023.

Abhishek Verma

Heena Sidhu (10m pistol)

Heena Sidhu, one of the first women shooters to have emerged from India, took a lengthy break from the sport for around three years after her 2018 Asian Games medal. She returned to the range in January 2022 as a mother, but while she played in the National Games later that year, ranking 15th, she has not made it back to the national team.

She has been featured in several cultural products, like a documentary on a streaming platform in 2022 and as a playable character in a mobile game this year.

Mixed Rifle team

Apurvi Chandela has also been out of the national team since the Tokyo Olympics, where she finished 36th. She was dropped from TOPS list in December that year. On the other hand, Ravi Kumar was handed a two-year ban for testing positive for a prohibited substance in 2019. He returned to national trials last year without making an impact.

Apurvi Chandela

Silver Medallists

Deepak Kumar (10m rifle)

Deepak Kumar's silver medal was one of the most pleasant surprises from the 2018 edition. He shot a 10.9 in the final round to inch into the podium places. He secured a Tokyo Olympics quota by winning a bronze medal at the 2019 Asian Championships.

He has done better in 50m rifle events since the Tokyo Olympics, but has found his way back into the Indian team hard in an increasingly competitive rifle field which includes the likes of Aishwary Pratap Singh Tomar, Akhil Sheoran and Swapnil Kusale. Deepak was placed 8th on average in the trials held to select the Indian team for the 2023 World Championships and Asia Games.

Sanjeev Rajput (50m rifle)

The Asian Games silver medal in 2018 was the 38-year-old Sanjeev Rajput's last major international medal. He secured a spot for the Tokyo Olympics when he bagged a silver medal at the ISSF World Cup in Rio in 2019. But like his two previous outings in 2008 and 2012, he failed to make it to the final round. He was part of the trials held in 2023 to select the Indian team for the 2023 World Championships and Asia Games, where he was placed 16th overall.

Sanjeev Rajput

Lakshay Sheoran (trap)

Lakshay Sheoran is probably the one medallist from 2018 who got the closest to making the Indian team for the 2023 edition. In 2018, the then-19-year-old became just the third Indian after Karni Singh (1974) and Manavjit Singh Sandhu (2006) to win the men's trap silver at the Asian Games. At the Larnaca Shotgun World Cup in April 2023, Lakshay and Manisha Keer represented India and finished 13th out of 23 teams. In June, Prithviraj Tondaiman and Kynan Chenai pipped him in the national trials in Bhopal.

Lakshya Sheoran, Prithviraj Tondaiman and Kynan Chenai

Shardul Vihan (double trap)

The youngest shooter to win a medal for India in the Asian Games, Shardul Vihan shot to fame at the age of 15 in 2018. But it was misfortune that his event, double trap, ceased to be an Olympic sport soon after and he shifted to trap shooting. Shardul has remained a prolific shooter at the junior level, without having made the transition to the senior Indian team.

In 2022, he was part of the boys' trap team which won India's first ever gold at the Junior Shotgun World Championships in 2022. In July 2023, he was part of the team that won a trap team silver at the ISSF World Junior Championship at Changwon.

Gold Medallists

Saurabh Chaudhary (10m pistol)

Saurabh Chaudhary's exceptional victory in the 10m air pistol finals at just 16 years old in the 2018 Asian Games was seen as the start of something special. However, since the disappointment at the 2020 Olympics, Saurabh has failed to recover his form. He made a late charge during the national trials held to select the Asiad squad, but it was too little too late.

Saurabh Chaudhary

Rahi Sarnobat (25m pistol)

Rahi Sarnobat's victory in the 25m pistol event made her the first Indian woman shooter to clinch an Asian Games gold. While she is not in the current team, she has overcome physical challenges - neuropathic pain - to continue to shine at the national arena.

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