As the Indian Shooting Para Sport team undergoes their final preparation at the Dr. Karni Singh Shooting ranges here, national chief coach J.P. Nautiyal said the team is capable of winning at least four medals at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games set to start next month.
Nautiyal, who is overseeing the preparation of the team along with national coach Subhash Rana, believes that the several members in the team have good temperament to excel in the finals.
“It’s a balanced team with young and senior players and many of them are coming out with excellent scores in the training that has been ongoing since last month. It has been a great journey for the entire team who have shown great results in the last few years. Many of them also have good temperament to pull off good results in the finals,” Nautiyal told the Paralympic Committee of India (PCI).
“Everyone is working very hard and staying focused. And I am confident that they will produce good results. I am expecting at least four medals including gold from the team,” said the Shooting Technical Committee (STC) president, who is one of the figures behind the rise of Indian Shooting Sport in the past few years.
In a first, a record 10 para shooters including top pistol shooters Singhraj and Manish Narwal have been named for the Tokyo 2020 Games by the Paralympic Committee of India.
This is the first time that 10 para shooters have achieved the required benchmark for the qualification. At Rio 2016 Paralympics, only one shooter – Naresh Sharma – had attained the qualifying berth in rifle events.
The 10-member team is currently undergoing six hours training every day that includes physical and mental training, live shooting, dry firing, strengthening and stretching at the Dr. Karni Singh Shooting ranges.
Nautiyal pointed out that the Indian team will face challenges from teams like Iran, Ukraine, China, Slovakia and Russia.
“A lot of countries have been doing very well in the recent past, especially Ukraine and Russia. Tokyo 2020 will definitely be challenging. But my biggest worry is keeping the team safe and healthy in this Covid-19 situation. A lot of factors including mental strength will play an important role on the day.”
PCI president praises Indian shooters’ hard work
Meanwhile, PCI President Dr. Deepa Malik was delighted at the selection of the Para Shooters, especially with the selection of two women shooters.
“Rubina Francis has qualified for the Tokyo Paralympics with a World Record while Avani Lekhara has qualified for all four wheelchair shooting events which is a great achievement. It’s a great achievement and a result of hard work of the coaches and the shooters,” said Dr. Malik, a silver medallist at Rio 2016.
National Shooting coach Subhash Rana added, “Contribution of JP Nautiyal, our head coach, is enormous. It was tough during the period of Covid to keep the spirit of the shooters. But we kept giving them mental tasks to achieve and kept the momentum going through virtual conferences and the results at Lima show that we are on the right track.”
Deepak Sharma, CWG medalist, too was part of the selection committee and was excited at the progress that the shooters made. “It is no mean achievement and we are hopeful for a rich haul of medals,” said Deepak.
PCI has also sent three names to IPC under Bipartite Entry System for consideration.
The Final list:
Men’s event: Manish Narwal (P1, P4), Singhraj (P1, P4), Deepender Singh (P1), Deepak (R1, R6, R7), Sidhartha Babu (R3, R6), Swaroop Mahavir Unhalkar (R1), Akash (P3, P4), Rahul Jakhar (P3)
Women’s event: Avani Lekhara (R2, R3, R6, R8), Rubina Francis (P2)