The number prefixed gave it a special status this time. It was the 50th National Shooting Championships at Indore and those who shot here can always say they were part of the historic golden jubilee Nationals. Although I have not been shooting much of air rifle in the recent past I did not want to miss this special National Championships.
It was a pleasure to see the participation which certainly is growing in the nationals with each year. The venue BSF camp on the outskirts of Indore had set the stage for this special edition. Although this time due to certain reasons the shooters were not accommodated by the host so there was no chance of criticism by the local media like in previous editions at Indore in which accommodation of shooters have been put in bad light.
Guns were on fire for full ten days at the BSF Reoti ranges, hats off to Samaresh again who just does not seem to get tired of winning, back from the Asian championships with two medals a gold and silver he was off to a golden start again, striking it rich in one of his pet events, the 50m free pistol event and with this he started his gold medal winning campaign at Indore, 10m air pistol gold followed by standard pistol gold medals, the only one miss was in the 25m center fire event which was claimed by Pemba Tamang , good to see someone else winning a gold in a men’s pistol event and coincidentally Samaresh was not even in the medal bracket in this one. The pistol Champion of Champions event was also won by Jung making himself richer by Rs 15,000 cash prize. Champion of Champion is a competition between the top eight shooters drawn from the men’s and women’s final. This was very spectaour friendly as the audience was allowed to cheer for their favourite shooters and to add to it, it was shooter Vishwajeet Shinde’s excellent commentary and witty remarks which kept the audience’s interest alive through out. Samaresh was a hot contender to win this but anything can happen in such a short formatted match. Sonia and Anisa were the two women in the strong field, but were eliminated first, before Jung and Deepak Sharma made it to the final. Sharma made the charge with a 10.4 in the first of the three shots final. Jung had 9.4, but recovered to shoot 10.1 while Sharma succumbed under pressure to manage 7.3 and lost out giving the title away to Jung.
Good show inspite of the missing stars
In the absence of the two aces Abhinav and Gagan it was still not easy, scores like 593, 595 and 1159 in 10m air rifle and 50m prone and 3 position events endorse that statement. With the two aces being out of action due to their injuries it was a battle between P.T Raghunath Sanjeev Rajput and Imran Hasan Khan who tried making the best of the situatiuon clinching individual gold medals in the rifle events, Rajput also made a new National record in the process in the 50m rifle prone event. But if one name can be marked out as a comeback in men’s rifle then it was 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games gold medallist shooter Sameer Ambekar’s who narrowly missed the bronze in a shoot off in the men’s 10m air rifle event.
Men were made to bite the dust
The absence of the two air rifle aces was felt again as the women rifle shooters made the men rifle shooters bite the dust as only two of them Sameer Ambekar and P.T Raghunath who won the men’s air rifle gold, made it to the champion of champions. Raghunath was first to get eliminated before Sameer went out leaving the women to fight it out. The title was finally won by Tejaswini Sawant.
Equipment Control well organised for a change
The organisers had given a serious thought to the equipment check problems due to the increased number of participations. There were days dedicated for the equipment check of each event making it easy for both the officials and the shooters who did not had to wait much as compared to the times on previous editions.
Media Coverage not impressive
Barring a few there was hardly any media presence during the competition, I remember the time a few years back when actor Nana Patekar had come to Indore for a qualifying match, it was a media frenzy situation, the qualifying competition made it to all the papers and channels but sadly this time there was no Nana and so no media. Being the golden jubilee edition it should have been telecasted on a television channel at least the champion of champion events could have been telecasted. A systematic media plan could have been made in order for better press coverage of the event. Never mind there is always a next time but the sad part, the golden jubilee is just once.