The National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) left nothing to chance this time. With practice in Covid-hit India becoming difficult, the NRAI flew its Olympic squad to Croatia for a national camp. The pistol and rifle shooters are based there, while the two skeet shooters — Mairaj Ahmad Khan and Angad Vir Singh Bajwa — are in Italy. The pistol and rifle shooters, along with their coaches, have been in Zagreb for two months now.
The team also participated in the World Cup in Osijek to test their weapons and current level of preparation. The results there (1 gold, 1 silver and 2 bronze) didn’t do justice to the high standards Indian shooting has set for itself over the last three years; but the coaches, experts and players aren’t reading too much into that.
(From left, rifle shooters Divyansh Singh Panwar, Elavenil Valarivan and Anjum during training in Croatia – Photo by NRAI Twitter)
“There are no worries or there is nothing to feel relieved about actually,” said rifle shooter Anjum Moudgil, replying to a question by TimesofIndia.com. “There is a job at hand and the focus is completely on it.”
Anjum has been picked in the squad for two events — women’s 50m 3 Position and 10m air rifle mixed team with Deepak Kumar. She is ranked world No. 3 in 10m air rifle and 27th in 50m 3P currently.
Anjum admitted that the opportunity to train properly in the middle of a pandemic has helped.
“At one stage last year that had been a worry. I am thankful that we were able to train and prepare well ahead of the Olympics,” the 27-year-old shooter, who hails from Chandigarh, added in her reply to TimesofIndia.com’s question.
A record 15 shooters have qualified for the Olympics, and with the introduction of mixed team events further boosting hopes of a gold medal, national high performance pistol coach Samaresh Jung has no doubt about his shooters doing well in Tokyo.
(Samaresh Jung introducing Saurabh Chaudhary to chess legend Viswanathan Anand during a dinner hosted by the Indian ambassador in Zagreb – Photo by NRAI Twitter)
“I don’t have a gut feeling. I have an informed feeling and that is that all our shooters in the Olympic team are up there with the best in the world,” said Jung, replying to Timesofindia.com from Zagreb.
“They are in the final stages of their preparation, which is going extremely well. Therefore, I have no doubt in my mind that they will perform well in the Olympics, will give their best and will not let the country down.”
The contingent will leave for Tokyo from Zagreb on July 16, with the shooting competition in Tokyo beginning on July 24.