Entering the Tokyo Olympics on the back of an unprecedented run that began sometime after the inexplicable meltdown in the Rio de Janeiro Games, Indian shooters bagging a medal or two, or, even three to four, is a tangible reality.
All of the 15 shooters are capable of winning medals, but few are seen as sure shot to secure podium finishes in the events that start on Saturday.
One among them is the highly-skilled Saurabh Chaudhary, who will have a few Olympic and world champions standing in his way to glory at sport’s biggest showpiece.
Alongside Abhishek Verma, Chaudhary will be part of the first competition day action in the men’s 10m air pistol event.
But before that, the fate of Apurvi Chandela and Elavenil Valarivan — in the women’s 10m air rifle event — will be decided. A good outing for either of them means India will have won their first medal in these Games.
Both Chandela and Elavenil will enter the competition with plenty to look forward to, despite the occasional blips here and there. The 21-year-old Elavenil, world number 1 and considered one of the country’s finest rifle shooters after some fine performances since breaking into the senior team, will certainly fancy her chances.
On the second competition day, India will have the sensational Manu Baker and the hard-working Yashaswini Singh Deswal representing the country in the women’s 10m air pistol competition.
The women’s 10m pistol event has attracted maximum number of entries but that should not worry the two Indian shooters given their skills and consistency over the years.
In the men’s 10m air rifle event, India will have the teenaged Divyansh Singh Panwar and the experienced Deepak Kumar, with the former especially seen as a strong contender after his superb run of form since breaking into the senior team in 2019.
If these eight participants fire on the first two days, India can expect a handful of medals at the Games, which will make up for returning empty-handed from the 2016 Rio Games.
In the middle and towards the end of the shooting events too, India have in its ranks strong contenders in the form of Rahi Sarnobat, Aishwary Pratap Singh Tomar, Anjum Moudgil, Tejaswini Sawant and the seasoned Sanjeev Rajput, besides the two skeet shooters in Mairaj Ahmad Khan and Angad Vir Singh Bajwa.
The likes of Sarnobat, who has won a Silver and Gold in the ISSF World Cups in New Delhi and Oisjek, Croatia respectively, world number one in 10m air rifle Divyansh Singh Panwar and Aishwary Pratap Singh Tomar are all gunning for medals.