Gunning for glory
Shooting at London
India look to keep momentum
Steyn guns down England with a five-wicket haul
Gunning for glory
Indian eye: shooting
What makes a sport challenging? It’s not the competition, not the scenario, the venue or even the odds. The true nature of a sport, and its champion lies in the one key factor that separates the contender from the pretender and that is consistency. And this attribute is on display at its very best in a sport like shooting. You aim, you fire, you reload, and at your turn, you have a go again.
Years of practice goes into the making of a moment that either ends on the podium or in tears. For Indian shooters the past decade has been decisive as it saw them emerge on the Indian scene so much so that even the world sees them as medal prospects.
The journey from the Silver in Athens to Gold in Beijing was one filled with highs and lows. It culminated in Abhinav Bindra's moment at the podium as an entire nation celebrated. Bindra who trained hard, cutting himself aloof from the rest of the world for past some months in Europe came out from his hibernation and crowned himself the Asian champion in February and sent a roaring call out to the Chinese.
But this time the euphoria is not only about Bindra. With accomplished stars such as Ronjan Sodhi, Gagan Narang and Manavjit Singh Sandhu heading an 11-member shooting squad, national coach Sunny Thomas says he is confident enough that Indian shooters are closing in on world supremacy in the coming few years. "Wait for the Olympics", he had told The Tribune.
Such has India’s dominance that barring woman trap shooter Shagun Chowdhary, who missed a medal by a whisker in the last world championship after leading for Gold in the final, all the other 10 shooters have won world level medals.
Speaking of 32-year old Punjab-born Ronjan Sodhi, otherwise a calm man off the range, he quickly transforms into a hunter with the shotgun on his shoulder. One can see the determination on his face and the grit in his eyes. "It comes naturally and once I am armed, all I want to concentrate is on the clay bird", says Sodhi, who features in the list of only five shooters who have either shot world records or equaled them.
Considered to be India's top hope at these Olympics, Sodhi opines that it would be wrong to feel so as the entire shooting contingent comes with rich medals and top performances. "You need some luck in addition to your hard work and on a given day all Indian shooters have great potential", he says.
Another shooter making the spot-light is Gagan Narang, who hit headlines following his four gold medals in the Melbourne Commonwealth Games (He followed that with four Golds at the Delhi CWG). Despite his arrival on the international scene during the 2003 Afro-Asian Games, it was a 600/600 at the Bangkok World Cup Final in the 10m air rifle event that turned a corner for Narang. The Hyderbadi, who stayed away from active sport for some years following an injury, has to perform well to be able to better his 10th position at the Beijing Olympics.
Meanwhile Vijay Kumar will start India's campaign when he takes to the range for his the 10-metre Air Pistol event on July 28, the immediate next day after the Olympics opening ceremony. Vijay, who bagged three gold and one silver medals in the 2010 Commonwealth Games later went on to win two bronze at the Guangzhou Asian Games. Vijay also has two silver medals in last three years at ISSF World Cups. Already after his stupendous performances Manavjit Singh Sandhu, has also made a mark for himself and is hopeful to bag a medal in his third Olympic outing. The seasoned trap shooter believes that his form and experience should help him sail through this time.
The four pistol shooters may not be able to match the deeds of the shotgun and rifle shooters, but Vijay Kumar could be a dark horse. Annu Raj Singh, Heena and Rahi Sarnobat have all shot high scores to win World Cup medals.
They have all waited for years, some even a decade or more to be where they are today. Can they make it count? Not just for themselves, but also for the nation? Lets hope these hopefuls replace the hope in our heads with joy in our hearts!
Annu Raj Singh
Rahi Jeevan Sarnobat
Manavjit Singh Sandhu
Abhinav Singh Bindra
Number of competitors: 390
The shooting events will be held from July 28 to August 6
Eight men and six women shooters from India will participate at London 2012.
Abhinav Bindra and Gagan Narang (10 m air rifle, July 30)
Ronjan Sodhi (Double trap, August 2)
Joydeep Karmakar (50 m rifle prone, August 3)
Vijay Kumar (25 m rapid fire pistol, August 2-3)
Gagan Narang and Sanjeev Rajput (50 m rifle 3 positions, August 6)
Manavjit Singh Sandhu (Trap, August 5-6)
The Indian women's schedule is
Shagun Chowdhary (Trap, August 4)
Rahi Sarnobat (25 m pistol, August 1)
Heena Sidhu and Annu Raj Singh (10 m air pistol, July 29)
Each country is limited to 28 athletes (20 men and eight women). This equates to two athletes in all events, except for the women's Trap and Skeet where only one athlete per country is allowed.
Olympic Shooting events fall into three disciplines: Rifle, Pistol, and Shotgun events. In Rifle and Pistol events, competitors aim at a 10-ring target from a set distance (10m, 25m or 50m). Depending on the event, athletes are required to shoot from standing, kneeling or prone (lying down) positions.
In Shotgun events, competitors shoot at moving clay targets launched above and in front of them.
There are 15 up for grabs, across men's and women's Rifle, Pistol and Shotgun events
China has become a dominant shooting power over the last few Olympics. They tied with the US, still the overall shooting medals winners, at Los Angeles 1984, but are clearly the top nation now. Since Sydney 2000, the medal table has been dominated by the Chinese, with 12 gold medals at the last three Games.
The US last topped a non-boycotted Games way back at Munich 1972
At Barcelona 1992, China's Zhang Shan became the first woman to win gold in a mixed-gender Shooting event. After these Games, the ISSF stopped men and women competing against each other.
Between 1896 and 2004, British athletes won 43 Olympic medals in Shooting.
India look to keep momentum
Hambantota, July 23
India cruised to a 21-run win against the islanders in the opening ODI—courtesy in-form Virat Kohli who smashed 106 and Sehwag who made a significant contribution with an innings of 96. The strip at the Mahinda Rajapaksa Stadium where the first ODI was played seemed to be a typical limited overs pitch where the batsmen have a field day once they get their eye in.
It is a wicket where 'win the toss and bat first' is the mantra for all captains and Dhoni was no different on the other day. Although the windy conditions initially help the swing bowlers but primarily it's the batsmen who dominate in these conditions.
For India, it will be an advantage of sorts as Sri Lanka's most consistent new-ball bowler in recent times, Nuwan Kulasekara is out of the series with a groin injury sustained while trying to attempt a catch during first ODI. All eyes will again be on man-of-the-moment Kohli who has now scored four centuries in his last five appearances and is in the form of his life.
It would certainly boost his confidence that he has started the new season with a flawless century. Ditto for Sehwag, who had skipped the Asia Cup due to injury and was keen to get a headstart as it is supposed to be a long and hard season for Team India. Gambhir will be keen to shrug off the disappointment of getting out cheaply in the first match and make amends in tomorrow's game.
Suresh Raina and skipper Dhoni have always been pretty consistent in the shorter formats and their valuable contribution at the death overs certainly made a lot of difference. Rohit Sharma's indifferent form, however, sticks out like a sore thumb amid the good batting form of his teammates. Having scored only two centuries in 81 ODIs certainly doesn't do justice to his enormous promise.
A poor average of 32-plus is something that should definitely worry Rohit as he goes about trying to transform talent into match-winning performances. However, it is unlikely that the Indian team management would tinker with the playing XI for at least another couple of matches unless they are forced to due to injury concerns.
Skipper Dhoni will, however, want his bowlers to up the ante after being penalised for slow over-rate in the last match. All-rounder Irfan Pathan's presence in the side lends the necessary balance. Although his pace has dropped considerably but his ability to get movement with the new ball is something that adds dimension to the attack considering Sri Lanka has an attacking batsmen in Tillakaratne Dilshan at the top of the order. The Indians will also have to counter Kumar Sangakkara who hit a splendid 133 in the last match but ran out of partners. — PTI
Steyn guns down England with a five-wicket haul
London, July 23 South Africa took a 1-0 lead in the three-match series, fuelling their hopes of winning the series and leapfrogging England as the number one team in the world rankings. Steyn wrapped up England's second innings with a fiery burst with the second new ball of three for eight in his four-over spell as England were bowled out for 240, replying to the Proteas' only innings of 637 for two declared. In bright, sunny conditions, Ian Bell tried to salvage a draw with his painstaking innings of 55 in 220 balls, his slowest Test 50, but, like his team mates, he could not stay in. It was a crushing win for South Africa, especially after England closed day one on 267 for three but then failed to capitalise. Amla plundered a national record 311 not out in more than 13 hours at the crease in his team's huge total. Jacques Kallis also made 182 not out and skipper Smith 131 in his hundredth test. South Africa were a little nervy having managed just wicket of Bopara (22) in the morning session as Bell and then Prior (40) dug in.
London, July 23
South Africa took a 1-0 lead in the three-match series, fuelling their hopes of winning the series and leapfrogging England as the number one team in the world rankings. Steyn wrapped up England's second innings with a fiery burst with the second new ball of three for eight in his four-over spell as England were bowled out for 240, replying to the Proteas' only innings of 637 for two declared.
In bright, sunny conditions, Ian Bell tried to salvage a draw with his painstaking innings of 55 in 220 balls, his slowest Test 50, but, like his team mates, he could not stay in. It was a crushing win for South Africa, especially after England closed day one on 267 for three but then failed to capitalise.
Amla plundered a national record 311 not out in more than 13 hours at the crease in his team's huge total. Jacques Kallis also made 182 not out and skipper Smith 131 in his hundredth test. South Africa were a little nervy having managed just wicket of Bopara (22) in the morning session as Bell and then Prior (40) dug in. — Reuters
England first innings 385
SA first innings 637-2 decl
England second innings
Strauss c Philander b Tahir 27
Cook c de Villiers b Philander 0
Trott c de Villiers b Steyn 10
Pietersen b Morkel 16
Bell c Kallis b Steyn 55
Bopara b Steyn 22
Prior c Kallis b Tahir 40
Bresnan not out 20
Broad c de Villiers b Steyn 0
Swann c Petersen b Steyn 7
Anderson lbw b Tahir 4
Extras 11-b, 15-lb, 12-nb, 1-w) 39
Total (all out, 97 overs) 240
Fall of wickets: 1-2, 2-32, 3-57, 4-67, 5-117, 6-203, 7-210, 8-210, 9-218.
Bowling: Morkel 16-0-41-1, Philander 19-6-29-1, Steyn 21-6-56-5, Tahir 32-7-63-3, Kallis 7-1-22-0, Duminy 1-0-3-0