Young Indian shooting star Anish Bhanwala, on Wednesday, failed to secure an Olympic quota for the upcoming edition of the quadrennial games to be held in Tokyo next year.
The teenager, who hails from Haryana, disappointed in men’s 25m Rapid Fire Pistol event at the ongoing Asian Championship in Doha, Qatar as he finished 11th in the qualification round with a score of 574 and failed to make it to the finals as well.
In the first round of qualification, Anish had scored 288 points but in the second stage, he failed to replicate the performance. While he was in the running to finish higher and qualify for Tokyo, a poor final series score of 90 meant that he missed it by a whisker. Meanwhile, the other Indian Rapid Fire Pistol shooters in the fray, Adarsh Singh and Bhavesh Shekhawat, failed to make the cut for Tokyo after finishing 14th and 15th respectively.
With this, Indian male shooters are yet to qualify for the 25m Rapid Fire Pistol Olympic event. Gurpreet Singh, Shivam Shukla, Adarsh Singh, Arprit Goel, Anhad Jawanda were the other Indian shooters vying for a 25m Rapid Fire Pistol Olympic quota through the year but were not successful. Anish still has a chance to make it to Tokyo, by virtue of his World Ranking ahead of the Olympics.
How denying visa to Pakistani shooters has come back to bite India
On the other hand, two Pakistani shooters — Gulam Mustafa Bashir and Md. Khalil Akhtar — are headed to Tokyo. Interestingly, earlier this year in February, following the Pulwama terror attack, the same two shooters were denied visa by the Indian government for participation in the International Shooting Sport Federation Shooting World Cup in New Delhi.
While Khalil had earned his spot by finishing 6th at the Rio de Janeiro World Cup in August-September, Bashir booked his place on Wednesday with some impressive shooting in the second qualification stage, wherein he finished fifth.
The International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF), on their part, was quick to react to India’s decision while the International Olympic Committee (IOC) maintained that India had violated the Olympic Charter. Following this, the ISSF had decided to scrap the two Olympic quotas in the event in which the Pakistanis were to participate, viz. the 25m Rapid Fire Pistol event.
On Wednesday, as Bashir shot his way to Tokyo, the whole visa conundrum came back to bite India. Had the quotas not been scrapped in the New Delhi World Cup, had the government not denied the visas, India’s 25m Rapid Fire Pistol shooters would have got another chance to make the cut.