She also speaks on the mental aspect of shooting and her goals for 2023.
Rifle shooter Anjum Moudgil enjoyed a supernal 2022, bagging silver in the women’s 50m Rifle 3 Positions (3P) event at the 2022 ISSF World Cup in Baku with 406.5 points and bronze at the ISSF Shooting World Cup in Changwon, shooting 402.9 in the final round behind German Anna Janssen and Italy’s Barbara Hambaro. Moudgil made it two successive medal victories in the World Cup series.
Moudgil finished sixth in the ISSF Rifle/Pistol World Championship held in Cairo. She missed out on a Paris Olympics quota by just 1.6 points but essaying her determination with a strong comeback. In an exclusive chat with Khel Now, Moudgil talks about sealing an Olympic berth in 2023 and her plans for the 10m Air Rifle Event.
Winning Bronze at Changwon also helped Moudgil become World No. 1 for a period of time.
Assessing a glittering 2022
With a collection of World Cup medals, climbing to the summit of the World rankings, and a good showing in the World Championship, Anjum Moudgil saw her journey in 2022 as a successful learning experience. “ It’s been a wonderful journey after 2021’s lows. It was a nice learning experience.”
Effect of pressure during the Olympics
While the qualification scores for the 2022 World Championships finals keep increasing, Moudgil believes that pressure impacts a competitive field of athletes on the Olympics stage. “Other than the Olympics, all the tournaments we see such as the World Championships and the Asian Championships, usually the scores are higher than the Olympics because it can be the pressure. But then usually all the World Records made are not in the Olympics, but in the WCs.
“What I saw in Tokyo was the same thing. There weren’t many high scores, but you never know how people shoot in the next Olympics. it depends on who gets selected and how they train. We just need to work hard on the scores now that the competition is getting harder.”
Impact of China and South Korea bagging most quotas
Powerhouses China and South Korea sealed the most possible quotas they could from Moudgil’s events in the World Championships 22. The 29-year-old feels that there is a level to win quotas being an Indian athlete. She kept herself motivated after missing out on qualifying for Paris 2024.
“We have a chance in the next World Cup, Asian Championships, and the Olympic Qualifiers that will be taking place. It’s good that most of the quotas are already taken by China and Korea. It gives us a chance to win more quotas. As Indian athletes, we have a level to win quotas in the WC rather than depending on Asian Competitions. Everyone has prepared well. I missed the quota only by 1.6 points. I was sad after the WC but it really motivated me to keep going.”
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Russia and Belarus shooters could still qualify for Olympics
While Russia and Belarus were absent in the World Championships 2022, they may get to participate in the following Olympic qualifier events. Anjum Moudgil believes that this does not mean the shooters from the two countries are taking away India’s chances. “I have never considered any opponent from any other country as someone who would take our chances away.
“As far as we are good enough, getting better, and shooting at the World level scores, it does not really matter who is coming or not. Obviously, the shooters from Russia and Belarus are very good. But I wouldn’t say that they are taking away our chances. Whoever is good should be taking the quotas.”
Mental aspect of shooting
In a mentally-driven sport such as shooting, an in-form athlete’s focus must be unwavering. Moudgil spoke of the mental challenges. “Shooting is physically challenging but more than that, it is mentally challenging. It checks our mental endurance, our focus, and how we take the thoughts from outside and work with the media.
“In shooting, there is no age limit. If you are physically fit, you can keep shooting. But the experience you get with failures is something that pushes you to keep going further consistently at a higher age also. It’s a matter of the support you get and how well you work on your mental health.”
Youthful boldness and exuberance versus experience
With a rising crop of Indian youngsters doing well in shooting competitions, China has already set the template of handing youngsters opportunities to good avail in the World Championships 2022. Moudgil said that the scores and experience must be telling factors for selection, “I won’t say who is getting picked or not, it all depends on the scores and not what age. If you are at the top of the rankings, you will get selected.
“But I would say there are benefits to being an experienced player at the international level. When a youngster starts competing, they are fearless, confident in themselves, and have no expectations from people around them. That is how they score higher. But at the international level when you have the experience you need from all the exposure you have had, you shoot better. It goes hand in hand, totally depends upon the person who handles the situation.
“Sometimes the youngsters are really good, sometimes they break at the highest level. It totally depends on the preparation. But I always prefer an experienced person shooting higher than a new person winning one medal and then getting lost somewhere. Consistency and experience really matter to me.
Latest rule changes do not affect preparation
NOC will not field shooters like Rudrankksh Patil and Swapnil Kusale in World Championships and Asian Championships to maximize sealing the number of slots. Anjum Moudgil still believes that the qualified shooters’ preparation will not get hampered. “No, I won’t say that. The good change from the Federation is that they are allowing him to play in the main team for the World Cups because the quotas are not available.
“That does not affect his preparation as he will be getting to play all the internationals instead of the World Championships and somewhere down the line, increasing the probability of winning the quota. If Swapnil or Rudrankksh are not there in the team, it gives the others a chance to win the quota. It is good that they have removed quotas from the World Cup so they get a chance to be part of the team, I guess that’s fair enough.”
Attempting the 10m AR event
Moudgil confirmed that if she seals an Olympic berth in the 50m 3P event, she will try her luck in the 10m AR event. “I have started my preparation but my main motive is three positions. I’ve kept 10m as an extra event. I really enjoy doing now and it gives me a break from 3P. But if there is a chance to participate in both the events in the Olympics, yeah why not.”
Goals for 2023
Apart from bagging the Olympic quota, Moudgil outlined her goals for the year. “My goal would be to win the quota as soon as possible in the major tournaments we have this year. I think the preparation gives me less time between World Championships and the Olympics unlike how it was last time. I was the first one to qualify, and I qualified in 2018.
“Then the Olympics happened in 2021. So it took a lot of toils to maintain my form throughout the 3-4 years. This time it will be about having my peak at the end of this year for the World Championships, Asian Games, and Asian Championships. Then moving forward with a clear plan, being there in the Olympics and winning a medal.”
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