The Tokyo Olympics is only 20 days away as India aims for a historic medal bounty at the Summer Games. As the Olympics approach, top Indian shooters have become the talk of the town following a great outing at the recently concluded ISSF World Cup. Even before the event, shooting has been hyped as India’s best bet to win medals at the Tokyo Olympics.
Over the last couple of years, Indian shooters have risen to become a force to reckon with all around the globe leaving a flurry of medals in their wake. Such has been their consistency that, top Indian shooters go into the quadrennial event as favorites for a podium finish. But the question remains, how many medals will India bag in shooting?
As we approach the much-awaited Tokyo Olympics, we take look at the top Indian shooters most likely to finish on the podium in Tokyo.
Top Indian shooters: India’s medal hopes at Tokyo Olympics
Among the 15 Indian shooters travelling to the Summer Games, 19-year-old Saurabh Chaudhary is India’s best bet at an individual medal. Despite being lower ranked than teammate Abhishek Verma, Saurabh has been the more consistent one in the 10m air pistol event. He has finished on the podium in all but one competition he’s taken part in.
Saurabh has participated in four World Cups since 2019, winning 2 golds, a silver and two bronzes. Since competing for the first time as a senior in 2018, he’s made the final of every tournament he’s qualified in. Currently ranked world number 2 in the Tokyo 2020 Rankings as well as 2021 World Rankings, it would be a big disappointment if Saurabh fails to bring home a medal.
Veteran pistol shooter Rahi Sarnobat was under the radar in the build up to the Tokyo Olympics, but her gold medal at the recently concluded World Cup has made her the talk of the town. Sarnobat’s accuracy surprised one and all as she missed the world record score by just one point in the final of the 25m air pistol event.
We saw a much improved shooter in Sarnobat in Croatia as she eased past the qualification round which has proved to be her Achille’s heel in the past. The World Cup performance of the veteran shooter has given India’s hopes for an individual gold at Tokyo a huge boost.
Saurabh Chaudhary and Manu Bhaker
If there’s anything likelier than the prospect of Saurabh Chaudhary winning a medal at the Olympics, it would be the mixed team duo of Chaudhary and Manu Bhaker. The pair has been wreaking havoc ever since the 2019 World Cup, winning the gold medal at all the World Cups they have featured in, with the recent World Cup in Croatia being an exception where they finished second.
The fact that both the shooters, Bhaker and Chaudhary, are incredibly strong makes them a very intimidating team. Consistency is the strong suit of the duo and they will be looking to make it count on the big stage. If Bhaker and Chaudhary fail to make it to the podium, it could very well be the upset of the Summer Games.
Divyansh Panwar and Elavenil Valarivan
The pair of Divyansh Panwar and Elavenil Valarivan is a fairly new pairing with the World Cup in New Delhi earlier this year being their first outing. Interestingly, in their very first tournament as a team, they returned with a gold medal. They are the top-ranked shooters in the 10m rifle event and form an incredible team.
Although they had a disappointing outing at the recently concluded second stage of the World Cup in Croatia, they will be a contender for a podium finish at the Summer Games. While Panwar is an experienced campaigner, Elavenil has not been at her usual best lately. It will be interesting to see if the duo is able to put their best foot forward at Tokyo.
Yashaswini Deswal and Abhishek Verma
The pair of Abhishek Verma and Yashaswini Deswal has been shadowed by the rise of Bhaker and Chaudhary as a mixed team for the nation. But that doesn’t change the fact, the duo make a great team with a silver and bronze medal in the World Cups. Verma and Deswal are ranked world number 1 in their individual events and are tremendous shooters individualy.
While the team of Verma and Deswal is consistent, yet their qualifying scores are low. This might see them falter on a big stage like the Summer Games which will feature numerous high scoring rounds. Barring the lone weakness, the duo make a great team and are surely a contender for a podium finish if they hold their nerves in Tokyo.
Also Read : Tokyo Olympics: How many Medals can India win?