Indian shooters surpassed their Rio de Janeiro figure of 12 quotas by clinching three more 2020 Olympic berths at the ongoing Asian Championships in Doha. Aishwary Pratap Sing Tomar, 18, sealed a berth in men’s 50m rifle 3 position event, while Angad Singh Bajwa and Mairaj Khan opened the account for shotgunners by sealing two skeet berths in the last quota event. While Bajwa defended his title, Mairaj bagged silver after a shoot-off in the gold medal round with his teammate, to clinch two of the three quotas available in the event.
In men’s 3P, young Aishwary took bronze for the quota place as five out of eight shooters in the final were vying for three Olympic berths. Aishwary, who had won gold with a world record in the Junior World Cup in Germany in July, decided to participate in senior events this year. This was his first international participation as senior.
“After his gold in the junior World Cup, we decided to shift gears and aim for the quota place. That was possible only if he made it to the senior team, so we decided to field him in the Minimum Qualification Score (MQS where scores don’t count for medals) category of the senior World Cups. His scores pushed him to the senior team,” Aishwary’s coach Suma Shirur said.
“When I was asked to pick one from junior and senior, I went for the latter. I took it as a challenge,” the Madhya Pradesh boy, who shot 1,168 in the qualification round and 449.1 in the final to take bronze.
In 2016, India had won 12 quota places and had 17 shots at medals (with a few shooters starting in more than one event). For Tokyo, India has 15 individual quota places and the shooters will have 21 medal opportunities.
Indian marksmen have shown real progress in the rifle-pistol events, as out of 10 events, they have won quotas in nine events. The only event that India doesn’t have a quota is men’s 25m rapid fire event. While in shotgun, Bajwa and Mairaj saved the face for shotgunners despite bad weather.
“It rained first and there was a bad dust storm, and the play was stopped for some time. The conditions were bad for all of us but I am glad I could pull it off,” said Bajwa, 23, who had clinched gold in the last year’s edition.