Shooter Apurvi Chandela has climbed to the World No. 1 position in 10m Air Rifle after the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Rankings were released recently. She has clinched the top shot with 1926 ranking points. Indian shooter Anjum Moudgil is second in the rankings.
Chandela became only the second Indian woman after Anjali Bhagwat to top the rankings in the 10m Air Rifle category. She also became the 10th Indian to become the World No. 1 across all shooting events. In doing this, she has joined an illustrious club of Indian shooters that includes the likes of Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Gagan Narang, Jitu Rai and Heena Sidhu among others.
Sharing her happiness after the rankings were published, Chandela tweeted: “World Number 1. Touched a milestone in my shooting career today!!”https://twitter.com/apurvichandela/status/1123399652852649984
Chandela, who has already secured 2020 Olympics quota for the country, narrowly missed out on a medal at the recently-concluded ISSF World Cup in Beijing. But she reached her fifth final in two years, having topped the qualification charts with 630.9 after 60 shots.
Earlier this year, she registered India’s first gold medal at the ISSF World Cup 2019 in New Delhi with a score of 252.9. Chandela is a gold medallist at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Game and a bronze winner in the next edition at Gold Coast. She also went on to win a bronze medal in the 10m mixed rifle eventin the 2018 Asian Games.
Also Read: i) Road to the Olympics: Shooting Guidelines for Tokyo 2020 (Part I) ii) Road to the Olympics: Shooting Guidelines for Tokyo 2020 (Part II)
Meanwhile, Moudgil secured the World No. 2 rank after he won a mixed team gold at the ISSF World Cup in Beijing. Manu Bhaker has secured the 10th spot in the 25m pistol women category.
Among men, Divyansh Singh Panwar has been ranked 4 in the 10m air rifle category, Abhishek Verma ranked 3 in the 10m Air Pistol category, Saurabh Chaudhary ranked 6 and Anish Bhanwala ranked 10 in the in 25m Rapid Fire Pistol category.
While Panwar won two gold medals in Beijing, in the 10m Air Rifle and 10m Air Rifle Mixed Team categories, Verma also shot gold in Beijing.
Former Indian shooter and Olympian, Joydeep Karmakar, who now coaches Commonwealth Games silver medallist Mehuli Ghosh, in a Facebook post rued how the outstanding achievements of Indian shooters continuously tend to slip under the radar. Karmakar wrote: “While all are making headlines about World Rank 30-40-50 or under 100, of course each demanding respect, but this will perhaps give you a clear picture, how underrated and less celebrated the Indian shooters are! Then Why? is it the Federation PR? Media or introvert shooters, or just the non awareness in mass?”
In the last few years, barring the Rio Olympics, Indian shooters have consistently performed well across tournaments. The biggest positive is the rise of promising youngsters such as Manu Bhaker, Saurabh Chaudhary, Divyansh Panwarand Mehuli Ghosh.
The rankings don’t lie — they are a great testimony to the fact that India has continued to generate shooting champions. Since 2002, India has now produced ten shooters, across different shooting events, who secured the World no. 1 ranking. They are Anjali Bhagwat (2002), Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore(2004), Gagan Narang(2006), Manajvjit Singh Sandhu (2006), Ronjan Sodhi (2011), Heena Sidhu (2014), Jitu Rai (2016), Ankur Mittal (2017), Shahzar Rizvi (2018) and now Apurvi Chandela.
Thus, the outstanding performance of Indian shooters truly begs the question if we doing enough for the sport to support the athletes and improve infrastructure. Abhinav Bindra, who created history when he claimed the gold medal in 10m air rifle event of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, had after his win rued about the lack of sporting infrastructure in the country. “Training in India was always a Plan B for me, but to progress we need to make the facilities at home the Plan A for our athletes,” Bindra was quoted as saying by olympic.org.
Since then, Bindra through his training centre has contributed a lot to develop the sport in the country.However, this lackadaisical public perception about shooting, or for athletics in general for that matter, is hardly a new thing in India. In a comment to Joydeep Karmakar’s post, Rifle Club shared the outstanding sporting achievements of one Haricharan Shaw of the North Calcutta Rifle Club who had won the first ever medal for India in a Small Bore Rifle Event in the Jakarta Asiad in 1962. His monumental achievement has seldom found mention in the annals of sporting history.