Tokyo Olympics Prediction: Have faith on the big guns of Indian shooting team
India is sending its best 15 member shooting contingent to Tokyo Olympics. It is going to be the best Olympic games in the history of Indian shooting.
The mega-quadrennial games are almost here. The heartbeat of the world is on the rise as we enter the Tokyo Olympics after a long delay because of the pandemic.
The Tokyo Olympics 2021 will begin with shooting matches. The terrific 15-member Indian shooting team has been training in Croatia for the past few months. They are all set to produce the best shooting performance ever in the Indian Olympics history.
So close to Olympics the expectations from the Indian shooting contingent are very high because of their medal-winning performances in the past. However, before setting our expectations, we need to understand the dynamics of the sports and the past performances.
Basics of shooting sport at Tokyo Olympics 2021
The shooting sport is one of the most unpredictable sport. Being a mental sport more than physical, it's not a cakewalk to shoot the perfect 10s every time.
At Tokyo Olympics, 360 shooters will compete from around the world. The first round for all the 15 events will be the qualification rounds. Following this, the top 8 (rifle and pistol) and top 6 (shotgun) shooters will advance to the finals competing for the top 3 places. Once a shooter has reached the finals, anybody can win as only top performers compete.
India is sending the world's 5 top shooters in the pistol team. The nation has the most realistic chance of a medal in the pistol event. Interestingly, India has never clinched an Olympic medal in the 10m air pistol event.
10m air pistol: Saurabh Chaudhary, Abhishek Verma, Manu Bhaker, and Yashaswini Singh Deswal
25m sports pistol women: Rahi Sarnobat and Manu Bhaker
In the past world cups of 2019 and 2021, all five have almost advanced to the final events of tournaments. Notably, Manu Bhaker would compete in three events.
The 10m air pistol team are the strongest contenders for the medal. While we have top shooters in all events, none of the team have all shooters consistently performing.
In 2019, five ISSF world cups were conducted, while two have been conducted in 2021. Let's have a look at the performances of the 10m air pistol team.
Saurabh Chaudhary- 5 medals (Gold- 2, Silver-1, Bronze-2)
Abhishek Verma- 3 medals (Gold-2, Bronze-1)
Manu Bhaker- 2 medals (Gold-1, Silver-1)
Yashaswini Singh Deswal - 2 medals (Gold-2)
Out of 42 medals given out in all the matches for 10m air pistol events, Indians have clinched 12 medals. Notably, out of the 14 golds medals at the 7 world cups, India alone has won 7 golds. This is just a preview of how strong the Indian pistol team is.
However, Olympics and world cups matches are very drastic. What is important to take into account are the scores of these shooters. All four of them have been consistently scoring between 575-585.
These are terrific scores, but to take their place in the finals shooters will have to shoot above 578 only. While the scores are close, Saurabh Chaudhary is India's best shot for individual Olympic gold. Even in the toughest matches, the young Indian has thrived and reached the podium. His scores and performances speaks for himself and make him the favorite to win the Olympic medal.
In 25m pistol event, Rahi Sarnobat clinched the gold medal at the recently concluded ISSF World Cup in Croatia. Sarnobat even won the silver medal at the ISSF World Cup in New Delhi. She seems to be in her best form ahead of the games.
Talking about medal predictions, we cannot miss India's best gold medal shot at the Olympics the 10m air pistol mixed event. The duo of Manu Bhaker and Saurabh Chaudhary have been dominating this event.
Prediction: India will surely reach the podium finishes in the 10m air pistol mixed, 10m air pistol men's, and 25m pistol women's event. Whereas, all 5 Indian shooters have the potential to reach the Olympic finals.
In the 10m air rifle event, India is sending the world's top two shooters Divyansh Singh Panwar and Elavenil Valarivan. In the 2021 world cups, they could not consistently reach the podium finish, however, their scores have not dropped a lot.
10m air rifle team: Divyansh Singh Panwar, Deepak Kumar, Elavenil Valarivan, Apurvi Chandela
50m rifle, 3 positions: Sanjeev Rajput, Aishwary Pratap Singh, Tejaswini Sawant, Anjum Moudgil
In 10m air rifle men's event Hungary's Istvan Peni and USA's Lucas Kozeinsky have been giving tough competition to Divyansh. Whereas, in Tokyo, the former Olympic champions will also compete.
The competition overall is going to be quite intense in 10m air rifle as we don't see a lot of shooters dominating this event. While Elavenil and Apurvi have produced amazing scores in the past, they will have to be at their most peak performances to clinch a medal.
In the 50m rifle 3 positions event, Aishwary Pratap Singh has surprised the shooting world in 2021. At New Delhi, he clinched a gold medal beating world champion Istvan Peni and another Tokyo-bound Indian shooter Sanjeev Rajput.
The best shot in the rifle event for India will be the 10m air rifle mixed event. Even if Divyansh and Elavenil don't reach the podium in their individual events, they have a good chance in the mixed event together.
Prediction: Podium finish in the 10m air rifle mixed event. Whereas, in 10m air rifle women's event and 50m rifle, 3 positions men's event one Indian can reach the finals.
Double trap has been India's most dominant event, unfortunately, it has been discontinued from the Olympics program.
Skeet: Mairaj Ahmad Khan and Angad Vir Singh Bajwa
Even though India's representation in shotgun is less this year, it's the first time two Indians would compete in skeet. USA has been the powerhouse in shooting, and shotgun is their strongest feat. With Olympic two-times gold medalist Vincent Hancock competing, India's chance in skeet doesn't look optimistic.
It will be unrealistic to predict an Olympic medal for India in shotgun. Nevertheless, it is a good start for India, and in 2024 Paris India might have a better chance.
The above predictions are based on past performances, including qualification scores and the former Olympians competing at Tokyo Olympics. The shooting sport being unpredictable, any of the Indian shooters can reach their peak performances and surprise us. In the Olympics history, a lot of times the world champions have lost to shooters competing in their maiden games.
Even though some Indian's have not been on the world top, they can still claim the medal as all 15 of them have the potential to. Tokyo Olympics is going to be India's best outing in shooting and will be the path towards India becoming the powerhouse in the sport.