Indian shooting has been on a meteoric rise in the past couple of years, with several young marksmen from the nation excelling at the highest level, winning titles at the ISSF World Cups, Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games.
With 15 berths, India has a record number of quotas for the Tokyo Olympics -- three more than at Rio 2016. The National Rifle Association of India (NRAI), however, will eventually determine who gets to travel to the Games. Here’s a look at how Indian shooters qualified for Tokyo Olympics.
Anjum Moudgil was the first Indian shooter to make the cut for the Tokyo Olympics by taking a silver medal at the 2018 ISSF World Championships in Changwon, South Korea, the first qualification event for the Games. Anjum Moudgil finished behind local star Hana Im with a score of 248.4 in the final of the women’s 10m Air Rifle to claim one of the four Olympic quota places. This will be her maiden appearance at the Olympic Games.
The current top-ranked shooter in the women’s Air Rifle category, Apurvi Chandela also made her mark at the 2018 ISSF World Championships. She finished in fourth place with a score of 207 in the women’s 10m Air Rifle final to pocket an Olympic berth. Chandela’s success in South Korea meant that it was the first time that two of India’s shooters in the same category qualified for the Olympics at one competition. Apurvi Chandela participated at Rio 2016, where she finished in 34th place.
Saurabh Chaudhary burst onto the scene at the 2018 Asian Games where he nabbed a gold medal in the 10m Air Pistol. Since then, there’s been no stopping the teenager, who secured a quota for the Olympics with a gold on home soil at the ISSF World Cup in New Delhi in 2019. Saurabh Chaudhary has already won five gold medals at ISSF World Cups and also nabbed a silver at the 2019 Asian Shooting Championships in Qatar.
Rahi Sarnobat became the first Indian woman shooter to qualify for the Olympics in the 25m Air Pistol in 2012. The veteran missed the 2016 Games in Rio due to an injury but is expected to participate in Tokyo four years later after pocketing an Olympic berth at the ISSF Munich World Cup. Rahi Sarnobat finished 19th at the 2012 London Games, but now with an Asian Games gold medal under her belt, he will be optimistic for Tokyo.
Abhishek Verma is a self-described hobby shooter who came into his own in 2019, winning two ISSF World Cup gold medals and an Asian Shooting Championship bronze. Abhishek Verma clinched India’s second quota in the men’s Air Pistol with a gold medal at the ISSF World Cup in Beijing. He followed that up with another gold a few months later at the Rio World Cup. Verma won gold in the mixed team event at the Asian championships alongside Manu Bhaker and is one of the India’s main prospects for Tokyo 2020.
Divyansh Singh Panwar
He may be 17 but Divyansh Singh Panwar has taken the shooting fraternity by storm, winning a silver medal at the ISSF World Cup in Beijing in 2019. The teenager has also won two ISSF World Cup gold medals in the Air Rifle mixed team with Anjum Moudgil.
Like Rahi Sarnobat, teenager Manu Bhaker sealed her berth for the Olympics at the ISSF World Cup in Munich, where she finished fourth in the women’s 10m Air Pistol. Manu Bhaker has been in splendid form, winning a gold at the Asian Shooting Championship and is poised to continue her winning streak come the Olympics.
While Manu Bhaker was the first woman shooter to seal her berth in the 10m Air Pistol, Yashaswini Deswal followed suit soon after winning a gold medal at the ISSF World Cup in Rio. The youngster continued her fine form at the Asian championships, making it to the final. Apart from her individual plaudits, Yashaswini Deswal has shown great promise in the mixed team category, winning a silver in Doha while pairing up with Saurabh Chaudhary.
The ISSF World Cup in Rio in 2019 was of historic significance for India, as their shooting contingent bagged a record 22 medals at the competition, alongside sealing a few berths for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Amongst the major beneficiaries in Rio was the men’s 50m Rifle 3 position shooter Sanjeev Rajput, who claimed the silver medal with a score of 462 in the final. The veteran marksman participated in the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Games, but could not make it past the qualification round. Now with an Olympic berth sealed for a third time in Sanjeev Rajput’s career, the reigning Commonwealth Games gold medallist will hope to buck that trend.
Deepak Kumar started India’s stellar show at the Asian championships, as he claimed a bronze medal and an Olympic berth on the very first day of the competition. The veteran scored 227.8 in the final of the men’s 10m Air Rifle category to finish third on the podium behind China’s Liu Yukun and Yu Haonan respectively. Deepak Kumar won a silver medal at the 2018 Asian Games and if selected, is now slated to make his Olympic debut in Tokyo.
Chinki Yadav clinched an Olympic berth for the nation with a fine performance at the 2019 Asian Shooting Championships. Chinki Yadav’s triumph in Doha means that India will have maximum participation at the Tokyo 2020 for the women's 25m Air Pistol discipline. India will be optimistic on improving their showing from four years prior where the nation’s solitary participant Heena Sidhu finished in 20th position after qualification. Chinki Yadav, however, has not been named in the final team for Tokyo Olympics. Her quota has been given to rifle shooter Elavenil Valarivan instead.
India are assured to have some participation in the women’s 50m Rifle 3 Position Air Rifle at Tokyo 2020 after Tejaswini Sawant pocketed a berth with a fourth-placed finish at the 2019 Asian Championship. Tejaswini Sawant is a three-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist but will make her Olympic Games debut in Tokyo if selected.
Aishwarya Singh Tomar
Another one of India’s young shooting prodigies, Aishwarya Singh Tomar became the nation’s 13th marksman to win a quota place after a third-place finish at the Asian championship. Aishwarya Singh Tomar’s bronze in Doha meant India will have maximum participation in the men’s 50m 3 Position Rifle category, with Sanjeev Rajput winning the first quota earlier in the Rio World Cup.
India’s skeet shooters had a difficult season on the whole, but that trend was put to bed at the Asian Championship in Doha, with Angad Bajwa winning gold in the men’s skeet category. The reigning Asian Shotgun Championships gold medallist will now be expected to make his Olympic debut.
Mairaj Ahmad Khan
There was further joy for India’s skeet shooters at the Asian Championship in Doha, as veteran Mairaj Ahmad Khan clinched the silver medal to claim the second men’s skeet quota for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Mairaj Ahman Khan participated at Rio 2016, where he finished in ninth position.