When the mixed team event in Archery made its debut at the Tokyo Olympics, it was almost a given that Korea were going to add another medal to their tally. And they did by winning the gold in the Mixed Team Archery.
One can’t say the same about India when the MIxed Team Events of 10am Air Pistol and Rifle Events make their Olympic debut on Tuesday, July 27 but the Indians will start the events, knowing they can finish on the podium.
As many as four Indian shooting pairs will be in action on Tuesday, hoping to put behind their ordinary individual campaigns and shut the critics.
Manu Bhaker and Saurabh Chaudhary will be back in action in the 10m Air Pistol Mixed Team Event along with Abhishek Verma and Yashaswini Deswal. Meanwhile, Divyansh Panwar and Elavenil Valarivan will lead India’s campaign in the 10m Air Pistol Mixed team Event along with experienced pairing of Anjum Moudgil and Deepak Kumar.
Can Manu and Saurabh live up to top billing?
The Indian shooters, especially the rifle shooting pair of Manu Bhaker and Saurabh Chaudhary, have been dominant in the lead up to the Games but the disappointment of their performances in the individual events so far in Tokyo raises a question mark.
Manu Bhaker and Saurabh Chaudhary have found plenty of success in the 10m Air Pistol Mixed team, an envious record where they have medaled in every World Cup since 2019. Their worst record in the event at the World Cups is a Silver that came in at the Osijek World Cup in Croatia in June, 2021 which followed their gold in New Delhi World Cup in April.
On the other hand, Abhishek and Yashaswini won the bronze in New Delhi before missing out on the podium in the bronze medal match in Osijek last month.
Manu and Saurabh are certainly one of the medal contenders in the historic event but the teenage shooters will have to bury the disappointment of their individual performances. In fact, the entire shooting contingent needs a lift after what has been a shockingly poor start to their campaign at the Tokyo Games.
The troubled start to India’s shooting campaign
India were among the top names in the 10m Air Rifle and 10m Air Pistol events but only one of their 4 highly-rated shooters were able to qualify for the final. Saurabh topped the qualification in the 10m Air Pistol event only to finish 7th in the final.
Manu Bhaker will be hurting after having finished the 10m Air Pistol Women’s Qualification on a heartbreaking note. She was in the race to qualify for the final until her last shot, which needed to be an inner 10. She kept herself in the competition despite the time pressure after suffering an equipment malfunction in the early stages of the qualification. But an inner 10 didn’t come. INstead the 19-year-old shot an 8 to miss out on a final berth.
It will be interesting to see how the pistol shooters handle themselves after the disappointment. Manu, who is known for wearing the heart of her sleeves, went to the training range on Monday to reunite with her pistol and shut out all the noise for some crucial training ahead of the big day, according to ESPN.
On the other hand, the rifle shooters failed to live up to expectations in the individual event. While Divyansh and Deepak finished well outside the qualification spots in the 10m Air Rifle Men’s Qualification, Elavenil and senior shooter Apurvi Chandela didn’t impress either.
While Elavenil will be looking to make a comeback, Anjum stars afresh after not featuring in the 10m Rifle Individual event.
NRAI Twitter Photo
Complete Schedule for India’s Mixed Team Rifle and Pistol events on July 27
10m Air Pistol Mixed Team Qualification Stage 1 – 5:30 AM IST
Manu Bhaker and Saurabh Chaudhary | Yashaswini Deswal and Abhishek Verma
10m Air Pistol Mixed Team Qualification Stage 2 – 6:15 AM IST
If India qualify among the top 8 teams in Stage 1
10m Air Pistol Mixed Team Bronze and Gold Medal Matches – From 7:30 am
10m Air Rifle Mixed team Qualification Stage 1 – 9:45 am IST
Divyansh Panwar and Elavenil Valarivan | Deepak Kumar and Anjum Moudgil
10m Air Rifle Mixed Team Qualification Stage 2 – 10:30 am IST
If India qualify among top 8 teams from Stage 1
10m Air Rifle Mixed Team Bronze and Gold Medal Matches – From 11:45 am IST