If there is one sport (including cricket) in which Indians have been doing very well, it is shooting. In the last 20 years, this sport has spawned more World, Asian and Olympic champions from India than any other sport put together. Probably cue sports come close but that deserves a separate post.
Let’s look at four examples
- Abhinav Bhindra, Olympic Champion, Asian Champion,
- Rajyavardhan Rathore, three times Commonwealth Games Champion, podium finish in the world championships
- Ronjan Sodhi, twice world champion in the double trap (and twice podium finisher), once Asian Games champion
- Anjali Bhagwat, One World Cup gold, one World Cup silver, lots of Commonwealth and Asian golds
In 2012 itself, in the Asian championships, there were a total of 28 medals won including 8 gold. In the World Cup circuit, Ronjan Sodhi picked up another silver couple of months ago.
But the Olympics is different. Bhindra in his book “A Shot at History” says that, like many other Olympic Sports, the biggest event in the sport is the Games. Tennis has its Grand Slams every year, football has its leagues, golf has its majors every year. But like gymnastics, swimming, etc. shooting has just one – the Olympic Games, once every four years. This is the tournament where everyone comes to take a shot. They are at their best. These Games were also, from a communication point of view, accessible at a shot-by-shot, minute-by-minute level across all media, devices, networks, etc. So as a shooting event got started, people could see the dance of the leaderboard as shot after shot was fired.
There was one universal insight for all who were hitherto unfamiliar with the nuances of the shooting competitions. The level of quality of the shooters was such that one slightly off target (off by a millimeter) meant a drop in the rankings by 4-5 places.
For all the practice, discipline, technique, machinery, physics – it comes down to your mind. 60 shots for qualifying and 10 shots in the final – once in four years. One shot missed early and you are always catching up. Unless your opponents miss, you are out. That’s what happened to Bhindra this time round. Towards the end of his run, he knew he was out of it completely. His last ten shots were all over the place.
Therefore, to be able to take that test and stay till the end, points to Gagan Narang and Vijay Kumar for their Olympic achievements.
(This is second in this series. Read about Performer Ranked 10: Vishnu Vardhan)