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How the Junior Shooting Program became the key to success for Indian shooters

Most of the Tokyo-bound Indian shooting team is young. The Junior shooting program is behind the success of these 19-20-year-old world top shooters.

Manu Bhaker and Saurabh Chaudhary

Manu Bhaker and Saurabh Chaudhary


Shreya Verma

Updated: 5 July 2021 6:00 PM GMT

The young Indian shooters are dominating the Tokyo-bound shooting team. Out of the fifteen shooters selected for the Tokyo Olympics, four are junior category shooters. Notably, they have been competing and winning in the senior category.

18-21 is the age limit for the junior category in shooting sport. Above 21 shooters enter the senior category. Likes of Manu Bhaker (19), Saurabh Chaudhary (19), Divyansh Singh Panwar (18), and Aishwary Pratap Singh (20) are junior category shooters.

Notably, Manu, Saurabh, and Divyansh clinched the Olympic quota before reaching the age of 18. Yashaswini Singh Deswal and Elavenil Valarivan, are also in their early 20s.

Age is just a number for these shooters as they dominate the world rankings in the top five positions. The success of the young Indian shooters results from the junior shooting program started by the NRAI under the leadership of President Raninder Singh.

The Junior Shooting program

The needs of a junior and senior shooter are different. After the 2012 London Olympics, NRAI started the junior shooting program. However, it saw growth and success after the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Indians have been producing consistent medal-winning performances since 2018. Most shooters climbing up to the top are from the junior program.

Former world champions Deepali Deshpande, Suma Shirur, and Jaspal Rana took charge of this program under the guidance and vision of President Raninder Singh. Having faced challenges in shooting, it gave an edge to them to help the future of Indian shooting.

A systematic setup was created to help shooters transition from junior to senior categories. The junior shooters were given platforms to get them used to the international level. And when they reached a certain level, they were transitioned to the senior category.

Junior World Cups and Youth Olympics

The International Shooting Sports Federation conducts the Junior Shooting world cup. The junior Indian shooters were first sent to compete at the junior levels. Based on their performances, the senior team was selected.

India's shooting stars Manu Bhaker and Saurabh Chaudhary have been dominating the medal tally. The young shooters have unbeatable confidence.

While they are undoubtedly incredibly talented. Shooters have had their fair share of international experience. Both have represented India at junior and shooting world cups. Notably, they have clinched the gold medals at the Youth Olympics.

Divyansh Singh Panwar has been very consistent with his performance. The 18-year-old has defeated many world champions and established his world's top rankings.

During the 2021 ISSF World Cup, another shooter in the fray Aishwary Pratap Singh defeated Hungary's Istvan Peni to clinch the gold medal.

The international championships are not only a confidence booster but also a chance to overcome their fears. These shooters are going to compete for their maiden Olympics at such a young age. Even if all of them don't succeed in clinching Olympic medals, they have a bright career ahead of them.

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