Shooting will be India’s biggest medal hope in the Games.

In recent years, shooting has become one of India’s biggest strengths in the Olympic Games. The nation has achieved at least a medal in the sport in three of the last four Olympics. The number of qualified shooters for the Tokyo Olympics is 15. All of them will be going into the Games in a confident mood after great performances in the ISSF World Cup in New Delhi.

Let’s take a look at five shooters who could bring glory to the nation by clinching a medal in Tokyo:

5. Rahi Sarnobat

The most experienced name on this list, the 30-year-old has been around the shooting circuit for over a decade. She bagged gold medals in the 2010 and 2014 Commonwealth Games held in New Delhi and Glasgow respectively. In 2018, Sarnobat became the first Indian woman to win an individual Asian Games gold medal in shooting.

Her stock continued to rise after winning yet another Gold in the ISSF World Cup in 2019 at Munich, Germany. That victory confirmed her participation in the Tokyo Olympics. She is currently ranked World No. 2 in the 25m women’s pistol but will be the top-ranked women in action after compatriot Chinki Yadav wasn’t included in the squad. Tokyo could be the perfect stage for the Kolhapur-born girl to claim the most coveted medal.

4. Elavenil Valarivan

Elavenil Valarivan will compete as Chinki Yadav’s replacement in the 10m Air Rifle category. She is the World No. 1 in her event, and will also be a part of the mixed team. So, that’s not a bad replacement to call upon! The 21-year-old first caught the eye in the ISSF Junior World Cup 2018 in Sydney. That was quickly followed by three gold medals in Suhl, Germany.

She has seamlessly converted her success since participating in the senior events. Valarivan claimed back-to-back gold medals in the ISSF World Cup 2019, first in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and then in Putian, China. Despite, air pistol events bearing more chances of an Olympic medal for India, she is India’s best bet in the air rifles category.

3. Yashaswini Singh Deswal

Deswal was in top form at the World Cup.

Yashaswini Singh Deswal is another new name to emerge in Indian shooting in recent years. Unlike others on the list, she didn’t achieve instant success in her formative years. Despite winning gold in team events, she could only win silver and bronze medals in the individual events in the 2016 ISSF Junior World Cup and the South Asian Games the same year.

It was in 2017, that she truly started to live up to her billing. At the ISSF Junior World Championship, she won gold after equalling the world junior record. In the 2019 ISSF World Cup in Rio, Deswal further enhanced her reputation. In the final round, she defeated 2004 Athens gold medallist Olena Kostevych of Ukraine. Currently, the World No. 1 in 10m women’s air pistol, Yashaswini will be another name to watch out for in Tokyo.

2. Manu Bhaker

Teenage shooting sensation Manu Bhaker will be the only Indian shooter participating in three events in Tokyo. She is a part of the mixed team, as well as the 10m and 25m individual women’s air pistol. 10m air pistol is definitely her forte, with all her major honours coming in it.

Bhaker is a nine-time gold medallist in the ISSF World Cup, along with two more gold medals in the Asian Shooting Championships and a 2018 Commonwealth Games gold in Gold Coast. And it’s hard to believe that she is just 19-years-old! The girl from Jhajjar, Haryana, also claimed a gold medal at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Anything close to that in her first-ever Olympics in Tokyo would be a historic achievement.

1. Saurabh Chaudhary

Another teenager who could shine in Tokyo is the 18-year-old Saurabh Chaudhary. The current World No. 2 in the 10m men’s air pistol, Chaudhary is 13 years junior to fellow countryman and World No. 1 Abhishek Verma. This clearly shows the progress he has made despite his young age. His achievements speak for themselves.

Eight gold medals in the ISSF World Cup, coupled with gold medals in the 2018 Youth Olympic Games and the 2018 Asian Games clearly proves his mettle. Chaudhary will be in a buoyant mood after winning gold in the recently concluded World Cup in New Delhi.

He is the only Indian shooter to win gold medals in the ISSF World Cup, ISSF World Championship, Youth Olympic Games, Asian Games and Asian Air Gun Championship. Saurabh will be hoping to now add the biggest prize of them all.

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