Indian shooters won't let you down at Tokyo Olympics — NRAI President Raninder Singh
India is sending its largest-ever shooting contingent to Tokyo Olympics. It results from the hard work of Indian shooters and the strategical approach and vision of NRAI and Raninder Singh
Shooting is India's one of the most rewarding sport at the Summer Olympics. There has been a meteoric rise in the sport as the nation is sending its largest-ever 15-member squad to Tokyo Olympics 2021.
Indian shooters have reached the world's top ranks and have been consistent with their performances over the years. It has been the vision of the National Rifle Association's President Raninder Singh and the association that has taken India to the top positions in shooting.
Raninder Singh, a former international trap shooter, was elected as the NRAI president in 2009. In an exclusive chat with The Bridge he reflected upon the success of Indian shooters:
"I am obviously very proud, but more than that I am happy for the sport and the athletes, most of whom are very young. And most of all, I am happy because the nation's flag is flying high across the world, because of our success in the sport."
Changes in Indian shooting over the years
After the debacle of the 2016 Rio Olympics, Raninder Singh and NRAI took full responsibility. NRAI president established a committee to understand the shortfalls and implement changes. However, the changes and process for development started long back in 2012, the results were seen after 2016.
Talking about the most effective changes made over the years, Singh said " I think our continued focus on the junior program, on transparency and merit in the selection and our endeavor to involve our former champions as well as schools in developing talent and building a buzzing ecosystem around the sport, has reaped rich dividends."
Despite the increase in the intensity of competition, the Indian team won three medals in Croatia
The Indian team had an incredible medal-winning performance at ISSF World Cup New Delhi. However, at the recent ISSF World Cup in Croatia, the medal count was less than New Delhi. The decrease in numbers was because of less representation. At New Delhi, 52 shooters competed, while only 14 Indian shooters were in the fray at Croatia.
Shooting is a mental game, being consistent is challenging. Raninder Singh, who is also the Vice President of the International Shooting Sport Federation, explained the dynamics of the sport "Well, in this sport, everyone just cannot have the best of days every day. We are not dealing with Usain Bolt here, where you know that if that man is fit and healthy and willing to sprint, its better to concentrate on second spot."
"The reigning Women's Air Rifle Olympic champion was never heard of before or after her Rio gold. In Shooting, what is pertinent is to build a competitive squad where everyone is Shooting at the same high level. That I think is happening if you observe our two competitive stints in Croatia."
Further focusing on the positives and silver lining of the performances at Croatia:
"Having said that, I do not believe we, as a squad, did not have a good outing in these two world-class competitions in Croatia recently. If you see the number of finals, we've made and the fact that we won three medals in Olympic events including gold so close to the Olympics, just reaffirms our huge potential even when according to many we did not have the best of outings."
Way forward for Indian shooting after Tokyo Olympics 2021
India is sending its biggest contingent, however missed Olympic quotas in some events.
"Well, we carry on with our journey towards attaining excellence, and we are a long way from that. As you can see, there are still some events where we are unrepresented at the Olympics. So that will have to be set right. "
13 out of 15 Tokyo-bound shooters are from the pistol and rifle events. A lot of improvements and growth have happened in these events, but the shotgun event is still developing. Shedding some light on the reason for that NRAI president mentioned:
"On Trap basically and shotgun overall, you have to understand that for one it is a far more expensive discipline to sustain as a career than Rifle and Pistol, therefore the steeper the challenge in our country. Despite that, we have managed to cultivate a good crop of youngsters and we are hopeful that they will come good soon, just like in Rifle and Pistol."
Indian shooting has historically been dominant in the double trap event. Unfortunately, that event was discontinued from the Olympic program. "You also need to understand that we were the world's best in Double Trap before it was moved out of the Olympic system. Skeet we have not done too badly as well. So yes, definitely a lot of work to be done on Shotgun, and we are fully aware of it and are steadfast in our focus on it as well."
Indian team won't let the country down- Raninder Singh
The expectations from the Indian shooting team are sky-high. Notably, all 15 Indian shooters have the potential to clinch the Olympic medals this year.
With Tokyo Olympics beginning in 16 days, Raninder Singh has a message for the nation "All I would like to say is that have faith in our athletes. They all work very hard for this. Support them in the right sporting spirit. What they can expect from the Shooting team is that they will not let the country down."
The bench strength of the Indian shooting team has expanded, this automatically increases the probability of winning medals. All the 15 Indian shooters have produced medal-winning performances, and have a realistic shot at the medals this year.
With such a talented team, and a systematic process established by NRAI and Raninder Singh, India's future in shooting looks brighter than the sun.