Commonwealth Games gold medallist shooter Anish Bhanwala is meticulously planning his path to the 2020 Olympics and says the first step in the "process" will be to secure a quota for Tokyo Games in the upcoming World Cup. The 16-year-old Indian shot a CWG Games record score of 30 to claim the top prize in the men’s 25m rapid fire pistol event last year. The victory made Anish, then 15, the country’s youngest-ever gold medallist at the quadrennial event.
The Haryana-born shooter has bagged several International titles including the Common Wealth Shooting Championship 2017 (Brisbane), ISSF World Cup 2018 (Guadalajara) and ISSF Junior World Cup 2018 (Sydney).
In 2017, the teenager made heads turn when he won the 25m standard pistol gold with a world record score of 579 at the ISSF Junior World Championships."My target is to do well in the World Cups this year, where quotas for the Olympics will be on offer. The main one is the World Cup in Delhi in February, it’s in my home ground," Anish told PTI.
"It’s a step by step process, I am focusing on qualifications for the time being, once that is done then I will think about the Olympics," he added.
The Shooting World Cups begin in February with New Delhi hosting the first one for rifle and pistol events. It will offer Indian shooters a chance to secure Olympic quotas on their home turf. Till now only Apurvi Chandela and Anjum Moudgil have managed to secure quotas for the Olympics, both in the women’s 10m air rifle event.
Asked about the disappointment of the Asian Games, where he failed to qualify for the final event, the unfazed shooter said he wasn’t too bothered by it. "There is always pressure on us during the games, not just the Asian Games. My training was good and my first half went well but the second half was a little down. I missed the finals by 2-3 points only," Anish said.
The teenager had produced a fine performance in the qualifications but on the second day, he could not reproduce that performance and finished ninth overall with a score of 576 at the Asian Games.
"I tried my best but I feel my performance wasn’t that bad, you can miss out by a slightest of margins on certain days, it is a part and parcel of the sport," he added.
Unlike other sports, shooting allows the youngsters to participate in both the senior and junior events. Such exposure has benefitted the young Indian brigade, including Anish, Manu Bhaker and Saurabh Chaudhary.
"The number of participants has increased, youngsters taking part have also increased, it has become very competitive now at the junior as well as the senior level."
"It’s good that we get to compete more — in the junior as well as the senior events. Our confidence also increases once we compete at the senior competitions and after that junior events seem simpler," Anish said.