With the largest ever Indian contigent for the Rio Olympics one is tempted to ask how many medals will India land up with. At first glance, one feels that we should end up with a double digit haul with the bulk of the medals coming in shooting,..As regards the brightest hope it seems that the likes of Jitu Rai, Abhinav Bhindra, Gagan Narang and Heena Sandhu could end up on the podium.
With India sending its largest ever shooting contingent, it comes as no surprise that a lot of hopes are resting on the shoulders of our marksmen. To narrow things down, lets now come to do a analysis of the three aces who are likely to end up with medals around their necks over the next six days.
On current form Jitu Rai looks our best bet for a gold or silver.The 25- year old Armyman who is the world champion in 50 m rifle, gets down to business on the opening day in the 10m air pistol event—which happens to be his pet event. Also the fact that Jitu will be making his debut at the Games he will be determined to leave his mark.
In terms of credentials, Jitu who was won a medal at every major tournament (he has gold medals in the Asian and Commonwealth Games) and also gold and silver medals in the World Cup and World Championships respectively, is the favourite for the medal.
Echoing the same views, Shimon Sharif, an international shooter felt that Jitu has it in him to win a medal. “If you ask me in terms of sheer credentials, I would place my bet safetly on Jitu. He has been by far our most best shooter at the international level and knows what it takes to excel at the highest level. For me the ability to excel at the big stage is something which Jitu has been doing well,” he said.
Secondly., when one takes into account the scores, When asked what sort of score would help Jitu to get a medal, Shimon said that Jitu has been shooting regularly scores of 580. “If he can get 585, then Jitu can be assured of making it to the final. Once in the final it’s all about one’s composure and mental toughness—something which Jitu has ex celled in,” he added.
If Jitu is making his debut, then for veteran Abhinav Bindra is competing in his fifth Olympics. The gold medallist in Beijing, Abhinav had a forgettable round in London and would be very eager to end his career with an Olympic medal in the 10m air rifle category.
“I think Abhinav is someone who shuts himself from the world and concentrates on giving his best. Also the fact that he has won an Olympic gold medal and has been consistently performing well now, makes him a contender for the medal. Having won a bronze at the last Games in London also helps. I hope he (Abhinav) ends his career on a high at the age of 32,” said an international shooter.
Similarly, there are high hopes on Gagan Narang and Heena Sindhu. “I think both Gagan and Heena need some element of luck to end up on the podium. Personally I would pick Gagan as having the better chances of winning a medal on the basis of his wider experience and better track record,’ said the international shooter.
It must be mentioned here that the Indian men will be participating in a range of events, starting from 50m rifle 3 positions, 50m rifle prone, 10m air rifle, 50m pistol, 25m rapid fire pistol, 10m air pistol, shotgun, trap, double trap and skeet. The women will be taking part in 50m rifle 3 positions, 10m air rifle, 25m pistol, 10m air pistol and trap and skeet.