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Olympics: India’s shooters won’t let the country down, says federation chief

Bindra India

FILE – India’s Abhinav Bindra carries their country’s flag as they lead teammates into the stadium during the opening ceremony of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 5, 2016. (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO / AFP)

NEW DELHI – India’s shooters will have to be bang on target if the country is to achieve its goal of a double-digit medal haul at the Tokyo Olympics and the federation chief has no doubt they will be up to the task.

The world’s second-most populous nation has had little success at the Olympics, winning just 13 medals combined at the last five Games. The six medals the team won in London 2012 was their best outing.

Shooting has provided some rare Olympic joy for India, with Abhinav Bindra’s air rifle gold in Beijing the country’s only individual Olympic gold, the rest coming from field hockey.

The National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) reviewed its Olympic preparations after the shooting team drew a blank in Rio five years ago and its chief Raninder Sing has high hopes for Tokyo.

“Preparation wise, we did what we could, and the shooters are doing everything they can,” the NRAI president told Reuters by telephone.

“I can’t predict how many medals they will win but I know they will try their best and that they won’t let down the country.”

India’s 15-member shooting contingent in Tokyo will be its largest at an Olympics.

The pistol and rifle shooters, including teenage medal prospects Manu Bhaker and Saurabh Chaudhary, left for Croatia last week where they will compete in next month’s ISSF World Cup.

Eight of them are also participating, as guest shooters, in the European Championship in Osijek this week. They will compete in the early rounds but will not be eligible for the finals, Singh said.

India’s skeet shooters are training in Italy and both groups will fly to Tokyo from their respective training bases.

“We arranged the Croatia training to give them some match practice before the ISSF World Cup,” Singh said.

“It’s a great opportunity for them, because not all athletes are lucky to get high-quality training when a pandemic is raging on.”

Barring three shooters who recently recovered from COVID-19, all others members of the team had received their first dose of a vaccine and would receive their second at their training bases, Singh added.

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