It has now been eight months that shooting competitions across the world have been postponed or cancelled due to the pandemic. Such has been the impact of COVID-19 that the Tokyo Olympic Games, scheduled in July, had to be put off by a year as well.
At this time, the five editions of the International Online Shooting Championship (IOSC) organized by indianshooting.com have been a boon for shooters, especially India’s four Olympic quota winners — Manu Bhaker, Yashaswini Singh Deswal, Sanjeev Rajput and Divyansh Singh Panwar.
With shooting ranges shut and no training camps for the Olympic-bound shooters, the IOSCs, the brainchild of former India shooter Shimon Sharif, helped the quartet stay sharp and in competition mode as they got to compete with quota winners from other countries. The opportunity has been able to “awaken the competitive spirit” in the top shooters and put them under pressure too, the kind that normally accompanies major tournaments like the ISSF World Cups.
The four Indian Olympic-bound shooters have made the most of the chance as Yashaswini and Divyansh participated in three editions, while Manu and Sanjeev took part in two. All of them came out raving about the innovative format and slick organization.
“It’s a great initiative because at least we are together, we are united. Sport is again uniting us across the world. We are shooting in different time zones, but we are still together,” said Manu after the opening edition in April in which she finished third in 10m air pistol.
“It was lovely being a part of this competition and I will be joining in a few more online competitions”, added the Youth Olympics and Commonwealth Games gold medallist.
Today’s Online Shooting competition match was Good (586/600). Great move by Organising Committee @indianshooting”, tweeted Manu after her second IOSC.
Today’s Online Shooting competition match was Good (586/600).
Great move by Organising Committee.@indianshooting @jaspalrana2806 @OGQ_India @Media_SAI @KirenRijiju @BhakerRamkishan pic.twitter.com/uk54fCbVEK
— Manu Bhaker (@realmanubhaker) May 9, 2020
Manu vouched for the IOSC to help Olympic-bound elite shooters of the country “get much-needed competition”.
“The online shooting championship will definitely help the Olympic-bound elite shooters. I had participated in two competitions during the lockdown. It gave us competition and valuable practice,” said Manu.
A two-time Olympian, Sanjeev, tweeted after the 1st IOSC, “Improvisation in difficult times, with an online shooting competition! Good to be a part of this. Was difficult being in competition mode after a month in isolation. But much needed.” In the 2nd edition, Sanjeev had topped the podium in 10m air rifle.
Improvisation in difficult times, with an online shooting competition! Good to be a part of this, @ShimonSharif. Was difficult being in competition mode after a month in self isolation. But, much needed! #StayHomeStaySafe #StayHomeStayActive pic.twitter.com/5KV6hVHQSr
— Sanjeev Rajput OLY (@sanjeevrajput1) April 15, 2020
Yashaswini made her online debut in the third IOSC and was straight away in top form with gold in 10m air pistol. A gold medallist at the 2019 ISSF World Cup in Rio de Janeiro which got her the Olympic quota, the 23-year-old was again on top as she won gold in the 4th IOSC. The World No. 4 made it a hattrick of titles in the 5th edition, which was the biggest in terms of participation with shooters from 15 countries taking part.
She was quick to list the gains. “Online shooting is a good platform to train and compete, especially in this Covid-19 era. I would like to thank indianshooting.com for organizing this competition.”
World No. 1 in men’s 10m air rifle, Divyansh, could not finish on the podium but found the IOSC very innovative and confessed that the match pressure was similar to the one in a world level competition.
All the editions of IOSC were streamed live on the Facebook page of indianshooting.com and got tremendous response from a global audience.