27 shooters. 16 medals. Seven of them golds. Seven broken Commonwealth Games records. The numbers tell the story. The Indian shooters have put a smile on our faces.
But the smile isn’t due to getting a surprise gift, it is a smile of satisfaction. The country expected, they delivered. For, it’s through them that the Indian team have reaped many CWG medals in the past. Out of the 64 medals India won at Glasgow in the last CWG edition, 17 were the shooters’ contribution. Overall, they have contributed nearly one-third of India’s CWG medals. Hence, the expectations.
First to deliver in the shooting department was Manu Bhaker, the 16 year old shooter from Haryana. This was her first appearance in a major multi-disciplinary event. But she shot to victory in the 10m Air Pistol as though she had been there and done that before. Compatriot Heena Sidhu finished second to clinch a silver.
Ravi Kumar then kept his nerves to win a shoot-off to bag the bronze medal in the men’s 10m Air Rifle event.
Then, Jitu Rai broke the games record to claim the gold medal by some distance in men’s 10m air pistol. Om Prakash Mitharval bagged bronze, finishing third. He also bagged a bronze medal in the 50m pistol event.
Seventeen-year-old Mehuli Ghosh almost added another gold but lost a shoot-off in the women’s 10m Air Rifle final. She, however, created a new Games record to clinch silver. Her compatriot Apurvi Chandela won bronze in the same event.
Heena, then, won another medal – this time, a gold – in the women’s 25 metre pistol final.
Shreyasi Singh won the gold medal in a dramatic finale in the double trap finals as she beat Australia’s Emma Cox.
The seasoned Tejaswini Sawant shattered the games record en route to winning the gold medal while Anjum Moudgil bagged silver in the women’s 50m rifle 3 positions event.
Anish Bhanwala’s historic CWG gold medal – he became the youngest Indian to get it – in the men’s 25m rapid fire pistol capped off a brilliant campaign for the Indian shooting contingent.
Amidst this Commonwealth Games glory, there is also a fear that the sport itself might be absent in the next edition.
Indian Sports Minister, Rajyardhan Singh Rathore, a former shooter himself, hence wrote to the Commonwealth Games Federation President and other concerned authorities to ensure that the sport remains a part of the Birmingham edition of the Games in 2022.
“Dropping the sport from the CWG, 2022 would come as a major setback to the large number of athletes in these countries who would be preparing for this competition and also the sport loving public who have watched and enjoyed this sport over so many Commonwealth and Olympic Games,” Rathore wrote in his letter.
“I am, therefore, soliciting your kind intervention in the matter to retain Shooting as a sport in the CWG-2022, Birmingham,” the Athens Games silver medallist in double trap wrote.
The sport yielded most medals for the Indian contingent in this edition of the Games, and they’d keep their fingers crossed about the sport’s involvement in the next edition.