NRAI hit bullseye with junior high

Updated: Jul 19, 2019, 08:14 IST | Ashwin Ferro

Teenage India's table-topping show at ISSF Jr World Cup in Germany is result of federation's meticulous planning, says team's High Performance rifle coach and former Commonwealth Games gold medallist Suma Shirur

NRAI hit bullseye with junior high
Vijayveer Sidhu (right) won gold medals in the 25m pistol, 50m pistol individual and team events

India's young shooters and their fire-breathing weapons have set the shooting range in Suhl, Germany on fire with their performance at the ISSF Junior World Cup (July 12-20). The Indian boys and girls have bagged an impressive and table-topping 22 medals — nine gold, nine silver and 4 bronze — with a day left in the competition. Such has been Team India's dominance, that China, considered to be a powerhouse in shooting, have been consigned to second spot — 21 medals (seven gold, seven silver, seven bronze)."

Huge achievement

Suma Shirur
Jr India rifle Suma Shirur

"It is indeed a huge achievement by our boys and girls; full credit to them for their hard work and perseverance," India's High Performance junior rifle coach Suma Shirur told mid-day from Germany yesterday. Shirur, who created history by winning a gold medal in the 10m air rifle pairs (with Anjali Bhagwat) at the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games, and Jaspal Rana, a gold medallist in the 25m centre fire pistol event at the 1994 Hiroshima and 2006 Doha Asian Games, are in-charge of the juniors. Rana is Team India's junior pistol coach.

Sarabjot singhSarabjot Singh won gold in the 10m air pistol event

Yesterday, Sarabjot Singh shot a 239.6 to bag the men's 10m air pistol gold — India's ninth at the competition here. This win comes 24 hours after India's Esha Singh bagged the silver in the women's 10m air pistol event. The other events that India won gold medals in at this competition are 25m rapid fire pistol (Anish Bhanwala), women's air rifle (Elavanil Valarivan), women's air rifle team event (Valarivan, Mehuli Ghosh, Shreya Agarwal), 25m standard pistol (Udhayveer Sidhu), 25m standard pistol team event (Udhayveer Sidhu, Adarsh Singh, Vijayveer Sidhu), 50m pistol (Gaurav Rana), 50m pistol team event (Gaurav Rana, Arjun Singh Cheema, Vjayveer).

Anish Bhanwala
Anish Bhanwala won gold in 25m rapid fire pistol

Shirur attributes this teenage Indian team's success to a proper junior structure put in place by the sport's governing body, NRAI [National Rifle Association of India]. "Credit must go to NRAI for chalking out an elaborate training and competitions [domestic and international] programme for the juniors. Around a decade ago, when I was shooting competitively for the country, there was no junior programme, as a result of which, whenever we went abroad, we were intimidated by everything around us. But nowadays, there is so much exposure that our boys and girls are a confident bunch and can shoot well anywhere in the world," added Shirur, who shot a joint world record of 400 points at the 2004 Asian Shooting Championships in Kuala Lumpur.

Elavenil Valarivan and Mehuli Ghosh
Elavenil Valarivan (left) and Mehuli Ghosh 

Chinese rivalry

Beating China is massive, felt Shirur. "Back in our day, we would jokingly ask each other, 'yeh Chinese khaate kya hai?' [what do these Chinese shooters eat] because they would win everything. Today, I won't be surprised if the Chinese shooters will wonder the same about our shooters," she signed off.

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