What went wrong for Indian shooters at the ISSF World Cup?
The Indian shooting team had a rough day 1 at the ISSF World Cup in Croatia. Did the Tokyo Olympics pressure hit the Indian team?
The 2021 ISSF World Cup in Osijek, Croatia started today. Day one of the event saw 10m shooters competing. 10m event has been India's strong suit, hence the expectations were multiple podium finishes.
However, India had a rough outing. Indian consistent performers couldn't produce their best outings.
In the 10m air rifle event, only one shooter could advance in the finals. Aishwary Pratap Singh qualified in the men's event and finished at the 7th position. This comes as a surprise as Aishwary is a Tokyo-bound shooter for the 50m events, and he won't be competing in 10m at the Olympics.
World top Divyansh and Elavenil couldn't even finish in the top 10. So what went wrong for the 10m Indian team on Day 1?
Lack of experience vs Olympians?
In 10m air rifle men's category Tokyo-bound Deepak Kumar and Divyansh Singh Panwar competed. While Aishwary Pratap Singh also competed, he is not on the Olympic team for the event.
Deepak Kumar had a relatively better outing than Divyansh. Kumar finished at the 14th position with 626.0. He didn't make it to the cut for finals, but he did better than the world's top three.
World top three, Lucas Kozeniesky (USA), Istvan Peni (Hungary), and Divyansh Singh Panwar (India) finished at 22nd, 15th, and 25th positions respectively. Most shooters who advanced for the finals are Olympians. Did the pressure of the Tokyo Olympics hit the world's top shooters?
Divyansh's 25th finish is a setback for him and the team. While Divyansh has been consistent throughout, it is his maiden Olympic game. The level of pressure varies in World cups and Olympics. World Cup in Croatia is the last event before Tokyo Olympics, and the world is watching the Tokyo-bound shooters closely. The pressure to perform the best can overwhelm any shooter, Divyansh is just 18-year-old.
Apurvi better than Elavenil and Anjum
World top shooter Elavenil Valarivan was expected to reach the podium in the 10m air rifle event. But, the world one finished at the 55th position. Initially, she finished at the 22nd position, but due to 2 points penalty, she dipped down to 55th with 621.3 points.
Anjum Moudgil also didn't have a good outing, finishing at the 42n position with 622.3 points. Olympian Apurvi Chandela was the best among the three, with 624.2 points finishing at the 24th position. Did Apurvi's Olympic experience help her deal with the pressure?
This a major slip-up ahead of Tokyo Olympics, as Elavenil is a potential Olympic medalist for India. What's more shocking is that Elavenil shot an incredible 6304 points at the 2021 European Shooting Championship. However, she wasn't competing for the medals.
India loses out on a medal in 10m air pistol women's event
The most shocking match of Day 1 was Manu Bhaker and Yashaswini Singh's 7th and 8th finish in the finals. While both the shooters could qualify for the finals, they didn't make it to the podium.
Manu is India's best medal hope for the Tokyo Olympics. Recently, Manu had a last-minute change of coach from Jaspal Rana to Ronak Pandit. That could have been an external factor affecting her performance.
However, both women made it to the finals even after the competition level being intense in comparison to ISSF World Cup in New Delhi.
Potential factors for drop-in performances
While some might compare India's performance at the ISSF World Cup in New Delhi with Croatia, however, it is important to keep some factors in mind.
57 Indians competed at New Delhi vs 13 shooters in Croatia. Automatically reducing the medal count for India.
Most shooting powerhouses had to skip the New Delhi world cup because of covid. A lot of Olympians also missed the event, but they will compete in Croatia to check their performances.
Some countries didn't even send their top shooters, who had earned the Olympic quota. Only shooters who were left to clinch quotas competed at New Delhi. While some countries left early after earning the quotas. So if anyone is wondering the reasons for the rise in competition, it is the attendance of more shooters.
Shooting being a mental and unpredictable force, we cannot make assumptions about the Olympic performance of Indian shooters. While Indian shooters have been extremely consistent in the past, mental pressure could have hit them a month before Tokyo Olympics
However, the setbacks will serve as an indicator to improve their shortcomings. All the Tokyo-bound shooters have the potential to clinch Olympic medals. And, in the end, it's important for them to reach their peak performances at the Tokyo Olympics.