Indian shooters keen to match Chinese, Koreans
INCHEON, South Korea (AP) — Indian shooters believe they can finally target the Chinese and South Koreans on a range.
As recently as three Asian Games ago, in 2002, India won only two medals in shooting.
In the past week at Incheon, the team has won eight medals, including one gold. They have a good shot at one more, on Saturday, in the men’s 3-position rifle.
The medal tally is a long way off from what the Chinese and South Koreans have hauled in, but India believes its increasing depth of shooters will make it a power to reckon with.
“We’re now competing with the Chinese and Koreans - and also defeating them,” Olympic silver medalist Vijay Kumar said after winning a pistol team silver on Friday. “I feel we can overtake them in some years. We’re world-class shooters, we should be confident, and work hard toward big goals.”
Success has bred success, and India’s shooting team has come on since trap shooter Rajyavardhan Rathore stunned his countryman by winning silver at the 2004 Athens Olympics. He was followed by Abhinav Bindra’s air rifle gold at Beijing, then Kumar’s rapid fire pistol silver in London. They make shooting the only sport in which India has won individual medals in three successive Olympics.
India won three golds at the 2006 Asian Games, and another in 2010. Indians regularly win at World Cups and world championships, and firing alongside the Chinese has helped improve standards, and scores.
“Asia has world-level scores,” India coach Manohar Lal said. “The one who wins here often becomes the world champion. There have been instances when shooters from North and South Korea, China and India have all been in the top five at world-level events.
“So, our shooting is only getting better, and we can expect a lot in the coming years.”
But, Lal added, “There can be no sudden jump. They countries ahead of us are also trying to improve. However, the government is spending a lot of money on our shooters and we’re trying to justify that.”
A lot of that money has gone through the Army Marksmanship Unit in Mhow, which has helped to produce the likes of Kumar and fellow silver medalist Pemba Tamang.
Tamang said he’s so excited by India’s shooting future that he wants his two kids to start in the sport.
“Our next crops of shooters is even more promising, especially those with the Indian army,” he said. “We can promise you that we will have several gold medals at the Asian Games in the coming years.”