With the 12th Asian Airgun Championships at Taipei drawing to an end, India continued their dominance in continental competitions finishing the competition with 16 gold medals and a total of 25 medals. Not only did the Indian contingent manage to finish top of the medal tally, but also managed to break a senior world and three junior world records. The extent of India’s dominance throughout the tournament can be understood from the fact that they managed to win all but four of the gold medals which were on offer.
The Indian contingent consisted of a mixture of young and experienced shooters lead by the likes of Saurabh Chaudhury and Apurvi Chandela, both of them coming off their gold medal-winning performances at the recently concluded ISSF World Cup in New Delhi.
When China decided against sending a contingent for the tournament and top South Korean shooters also decided to give it a miss, Indian shooters became strong favourites for the gold in most events. As the competition progressed, it became quite evident that both the junior and senior shooters have managed to live up to their billing.
The first set of medals came for India in the very first event of the tournament, when Saurabh Chaudhary and Manu Bhaker paired up to get the gold in 10m air pistol mixed team event. In their quest to reach the finals, the teenage duo broke the world record in the qualification stage of the tournament with a score of 784, 2 points better than the previous world record. Facing very little competition in the finals as well, the Indian pair lead from the beginning to end to ensure India’s first gold.
With the mixed team events now being a part of the Olympic schedule, the Indian duo of Saurabh and Manu can provide serious competition to top shooters around the world.
However, a slight disappointment came in for Saurabh in the individual air pistol event where he could only finish in the fourth position. A phenomenal run of 7 successive gold medals, which includes a gold at the Youth Olympics and Asian Games finally came to an end for the teenage prodigy. The current world record holder, however, has very little to be disheartened about as he was due to show his more human side after a staggering run. Perhaps, the weakened competition at the continental championships did not help Saurabh’s cause either. India’s Abhishek Verma did, however, finish among the medals, missing out on the gold by just 0.2 points in the final.
The likes of Manu, Divyansh and Elavenil, however, faced no such disappointment as they cruised to victory in their respective events. Particularly impressive was the victory of Divyansh Singh Panwar who defeated the more experienced duo of Deepak and Ravi Kumar in both the qualification as well as the final stages of the event. India’s young shooting talents displayed why they have been so successful in dominating competitions across the globe since the beginning of last year.
In the junior events, the Indian contingent was even more successful, managing to break two existing world records and two Asian records.
In the 10m air rifle event, Shreya Agarwal cruised to the gold medal by breaking the junior world record in the final stage of the event. She also teamed up with Mehuli Ghosh and Kavi Rakshna Chakkravarthy to seal the team gold for India and the trio together broke the world junior record for the team event, as well. Indian youngsters managed to sweep all the individual gold medals which were on offer in the junior category of the tournament.
With tournaments now coming up thick and fast, experience at the Asian Airgun Championships in Taipei will certainly help India’s young guns perform much better at the World Cup in Beijing and Munich, where the competition will get much tougher. While India’s shotgun shooters will have to travel to Al Ain next, India’s rifle and pistol shooters will be travelling to Beijing for the second rifle and pistol World Cup of the year. Buoyed by their performances at the continental airgun championships, the Indian contingent will certainly be looking forward towards sealing some all-important Olympic quota places for Tokyo 2020.