The verdict is out that the online shooting competitions organised by indianshooting.com, especially ‘TOPGUN’ and the last two editions of the International Online Shooting Championship (IOSC) in May, June and July helped shooters prepare better for the Tokyo Olympics. Affirming this, is India’s only individual Olympic gold medallist Abhinav Bindra.
In response to indianshooting.com’s tweet on 20-year-old William Shaner of USA winning gold in Men’s 10m Air Rifle with an Olympic record of 251.6 on Sunday, Bindra, the 2008 Beijing Olympic gold medallist, wrote, “Am sure your online competition had a positive role in his preparation”.
Am sure your online competition had a positive role in his preparation!
— Abhinav A. Bindra OLY (@Abhinav_Bindra) July 25, 2021
Bindra’s tweet is huge validation of the efforts to ensure shooters from across the globe stayed sharp the past 15 months after the pandemic dried up events on the ISSF calendar for a long time.
When conventional tournaments did start, the exposure and handling the pressure of online competitions came handy. A case in point is the participation of USA Shooting in ‘TOPGUN’ and IOSCs for the first time closer to the Olympics. Obviously, the objective was clear, to gather as much as experience of competition before the Osijek World Cup in Croatia and Tokyo Games.
Lucas Koziensky, World No 3, and Shaner, World No 24, had stressed how the format of online competitions like ‘TOPGUN’ and IOSC would help immensely in a high-pressure event like the Olympics. Joining them in stressing the point was 2016 Rio Olympics champion Ginny Thrasher.
The biggest thumbs up came from USA Shooting coach Dan Durben who was effusive in his praise of ‘TOPGUN’. “The format did a fantastic job of giving the athletes the actual competition feeling that could be so important for their performance in Tokyo. What happened here will come through in their performance at the Olympics and we are very appreciative to take part,” he said.
Durben agreed that the challenge of staying focussed during the breaks in an online competition would come handy at Tokyo Olympics.
Sure enough, Lucas and William proved him right by making the final in the 10m air rifle event. While Lucas finished 6th, a marked improvement from the 21st at Rio 2016, William surprised all by mounting the podium with gold as the second youngest winner of the event in Olympic history on Sunday.
After finishing 4th in the IOSC, William, who won gold at the last ISSF World Cup before the Olympics in Osijek, shared his thoughts on how the IOSC was a great experience and the challenge of shooting at a consistent level throughout the competition.
The effort of waking up early for the online competitions in India has paid off with USA breaking a medal jinx in this event at the Olympics. “We’ve been trying to get a medal in this event for a long time…so it was nice to bring it back home now,” said William.