Four-time Asian Games gold-medalist and India’s junior national shooting coach Jaspal Rana believes that a lot of pressure has been put on young shooting sensation Manu Bhaker with Jakarta Asiad around the corner.
Bhaker came into limelight after claiming an individual gold medal in her senior World Cup debut in Mexico, becoming the first Indian shooter to do so at the mere age of 16. In continuance, she clinched another gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast.
She will compete in 10m air pistol, 25m sports pistol and mixed air pistol at the Games in Indonesia.
“Manu has all the potential and she can win also (at the Jakarta event) as she has already proven herself in Mexico World Cup where she had beaten all the top players of the world. She has the capacity, but I would say right now, she is too young to bear so much of load on her shoulders for every competition,” Rana tells The Sunday Guardian.
“She gave her best in the Commonwealth Games, junior World Cup and senior World Cup as well. And what exactly I am looking at is the World Championship, where she can win a quota place for the Olympics, which is just after the Asian Games,” he adds.
Rana is only the fourth Indian shooter— other than Randhir Singh, Jitu Rai and Ronjan Sodhi— to have won a gold medal at the Asian Games. He asserts that the highly competitive Asiad is not at par with the Commonwealth and will be a litmus test for the Indian shooters.
“There is no comparison between the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games. Asian Games are as good as the World Cup and the World Championships,” Rana explains. He, however, adds that the Indian squad definitely has the potential to bring medals home.
“It will be quite tough in Asian Games as we will have to beat China, Korea and Japan. But I am not saying that we can’t beat them. We have beaten them many times in the past. It all depends how much we are prepared.”
This time, the Asian Games organisers have done away with the team competition and have also dropped events like rifle 50m prone (men and women), 50m pistol, 25m centre fire pistol and 25m standard pistol.
Rana says the trimming of events has dented India’s chances of winning medals. “We used to have like almost four-five medals in the team event, so that is again a loss for us,” he rues.
Also, this time, the Indian squad won’t be having Asian Games medalists like Gagan Narang and Jitu Rai, who failed to make it to the team. But Rana says the absence of these experienced players would make no difference.
“It is just the matter of the day and the timing, and if you give your best, that becomes the experience. Somebody has to start from there, so it is fine,” he adds, sounding optimistic.
The 2018 Asian Games will be held from 18 August to 2 September in the Indonesian cities of Jakarta and Palembang. As per schedule, shooting at the Games will be held at the Jakabaring International Shooting Range in Palembang from 18 to 27 August.