New Delhi, September 30
Indian shooters beating the Chinese in their own den at the ongoing Asian Games has enhanced their “self-belief” and given them the confidence that they can beat the “best in the world”, said pistol coach Samaresh Jung following the country’s marksmen’s sizzling performance at the continental showpiece.
Jung, who is in Hangzhou with the Indian contingent, added that the success of the band of young shooters at the Asian Games was a significant “milestone” in their sporting journey.
“They (shooters) need to believe that they can do it, and now they have seen it. Beating a powerhouse like China in China is a big thing and it would certainly enhance their self-belief. This made them realise that they can beat the world,” said Jung, who had won five gold medals at the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games, earning him the sobriquet ‘Goldfinger’.
“It is the beginning of their journey as they are just 18, 19 or 20-years-old. They have a long way to go but this Asian Games would be the milestone in their journey,” the 10m air pistol coach told PTI Bhasha in an exclusive interview.
This year’s performance has exceeded all expectations, surpassing the previous record established at the 2006 Doha Asian Games where India secured 14 medals in shooting.
India have so far won 19 medals in shooting, including six gold and eight silver.
Their success comes after a flop show at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, where 15 shooters returned empty-handed.
Among the standout performers at the continental games were 17-year-old Palak Gulia and 18-year-old Esha Singh, who had a gold-silver finish in 10m air pistol individual event.
The trio of Sarabjot Singh, Arjun Singh Cheema and Shiva Narwal edged out the Chinese team to secure gold in the men’s 10m air pistol team event. India also won the silver in women’s 10m air pistol team and mixed team events.
“Top two finishes (Palak-Esha) is a proud feeling. Whenever the national anthem is played, it always gives me goose-bumps and I am sure every Indian feels that way,” he said.
“Esha and Palak are very young. They have the ability that’s why they are in the national team. This is the biggest competition for them. Asian Games are different from World Championships and they have performed exceptionally well. The future looks bright for them and for Indian shooting,” said the coach.
Jung felt that a couple of close finishes could have been converted into medals.
“I am pretty satisfied with the results but we had a couple of fourth-place finishes. They could have turned into medals. And there is always a margin for improvement. Even if we win all the gold medals, there will be a focus on getting better scores,” he added.
“But I would not take away anything from these performances. Our shooters have worked really hard. They were very well prepared for the Games, and it worked,” he said.
So, can India expect medals in shooting at the Paris Olympics next year, especially after they fired blanks in the Tokyo and Rio Games.
“We can always hope, that’s why we go there. After winning a few medals in previous Olympics, we don’t just go to compete or just to mark our presence. We go there to win medals, but in shooting there is no guarantee,” said the ace shooter.
“We just shoot our best but if someone else does better than you, then you can’t do anything about it. You have to take it in your stride and move ahead. However, we will do our best to maintain this consistency,” he said.
“The Asian Championships are coming up next (in Changwon, South Korea next month) where Olympic quota places will be up for grabs. Shooters will get a 10-day break now and then the national camp begins,” said Jung.
Jung said he will wait for sometime before passing on the ‘title’ of ‘Goldfinger’ to someone else.
“I will have to wait for that. I would like to hang on to that for a little while,” he said in lighter vein.
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