What does it take to win a medal at the Olympics? Indian shooters Manu Bhaker and Saurabh Chaudhury would probably be knowing the answer to it. Deemed as the best prospect of winning a gold medal in shooting at the Tokyo Olympics, Chaudhury and Bhaker succumb to pressure in the qualification stage 2 of the Mixed 10m Air Pistol event on Tuesday at the Asaka Shooting range.
The duo finished in the below-par seventh position, just ahead of Australia, after showing promise in qualification stage 1, where they raked up the top spot. Where did everything go wrong?
While Chaudhury shot a 96 and an even better 98 in his two series, respectively, aggregating 194 out of 200 in total. Bhaker languished among at 186 (92 and 94), which was the lowest among all the shooters in stage 2.
Both the 2002 born teenagers who share the world no. 2 spots in their individual categories of men's and women's 10m air pistol had choked twice by this time.
Saurabh, who finished at seventh place in his individual event, still showed his mettle as a world-class shooter and shot a 296/300 in the three series of Qualification stage 1, which by far was the highest among all. Bhaker, on the other hand, shot three 8s in stage 2 that had already hurt the duo's chances to progress even in the bronze medal match.
Bhaker was seeking redemption from her poor show in the individual event, where a double malfunction of her pistol, led her to wage a battle against time and crumbled under pressure shooting 8s, failing to qualify for the final. But this time, she would probably have herself only to blame. Bhaker would still put her faith in her last attempt of winning a medal in Tokyo in the women's 25m air pistol category.
Double trap shooter Ronjan Singh Sodhi, who went to the London Games as World No. 2, had a forgettable outing that puts his faith in Bhaker.
"She (Bhaker) still has a chance, and I think she will be able to convert this into a medal this time. Today she was disappointing, but she is a good shooter who can come back stronger," says Sodhi in an exclusive conversation with The Bridge.
"I feel our shooters need guidance from sports scientists and psychologists. It is paramount for a sport like shooting. There has to be some brainstorming on how to go ahead," adds Sodhi.
Ronjan Sodhi (Source: NRAI)
Bhaker was being hailed as the best medal prospect among all in the Indian contingent who were taking part in the Tokyo Olympics. Sodhi believes that it was the hype that has cost Bhaker dear.
"I have also gone through the same thing in London. I went on winning plenty of medals before the 2012 Games, but in the end, it was disappointing. I can feel what she is going through," Sodhi recounts.
Talking about the coaches of the Indian shooting team, the trap shooter concludes, "There have to be some changes in the coaching set up. Indian coaches always don't have the calibre and the insights the foreign coaches have. This is for the first time the team has an only-Indian coach set up. They have foreign coaches for hockey and cricket, but shooters don't have it now. You have to be sound with the things that are going around the world, and that is where we are lacking."