Eleven world class shooters including six from India who kept themselves in competition mode throughout the pandemic last year — thanks to the innovative idea of online shooting by former India shooter Shimon Sharif — will now be seen in action at the ISSF World Cup which kicks-off on Thursday in New Delhi.
The online shooting competitions, which got a thumbs up from the shooting fraternity, proved a boon for shooters from as many as 30 countries including the Olympic quota winners from India — Manu Bhaker, Yashaswini Singh Deswal, Sanjeev Rajput and World No 1 Divyansh Singh Panwar. With shooting ranges shut and no training camps staged last year, the quartet stayed sharp and in competition mode as they got to compete with quota winners from other countries. They will now be seen in action along with Anish Bhanwala and Shahzar Rizvi who were the other two Indian shooters to stay sharp via the online competitions organised by Sharif.
Yashaswini was the most sucessfull as she won back-to-back gold in three International Online Shooting Championships (IOSC) and claimed the No 1 spot in the Online Shooting Rankings announced by indianshooting.com in January. Sanjeev and Shahzar too were in the top bracket with gold-winning performances in the 2nd IOSC. Anish got bronze in the third edition of the IOSC, and Manu had two bronze against her name from as many editions.
Manu and World No 1 in Men’s 10m Air Rifle, Divyansh, found the IOSC very innovative. A two-time Olympian, Sanjeev, tweeted, “Improvisation in difficult times, with an online shooting competition! Good to be a part of this.
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
Among the foreign shooters who will also look to drive home the advantage during the World Cup are Olympian Jorge Diaz of Spain, Eszter Denes of Hungary, Malika Laguntenko of Tajikistan, Viktoriya Sukhorukova of Ukaraine and Israel’s Tal Engler.
All the shooters who turned up admitted that the opportunity was able to “awaken the competitive spirit” and put them under pressure too, the kind that normally accompanies major tournaments like the ISSF World Cups.