Name: Ankur Mittal
Category: Men's Double Trap
Past CWG performances: Semi-finalist in Men's double trap event at 2014 Commonwealth Games
Best performance: Silver at 2017 World Championships
A silver medal at 2017 ISSF World Cup in July, gold medals at the Asian Championships, Acapulco World Cup and 2017 Commonwealth Championships and to top it all, a silver medal in the men's double trap event at 2017 ISSF World Shotgun Championship is enough evidence to state that Ankur Mittal is currently India's best double trap shooter.
So heading into the 2018 Commonwealth Games, Mittal will carry the burden of big expectations of his countrymen. While living up to it will be a challenge that will drive the young shooter from New Delhi, the removal of double trap event from Olympics will make him go all out at Gold Coast, as the CWG along with the 2018 Asian Games could be his best chance of winning the gold medal in the category on the biggest stage.
The 25-year-old stated in an interview to ESPN.in, that he has already started practicing single trap shooting and will begin to pursue it full time after the Asian Games later this year. Proficiency in single trap will enable him to have a chance of participating in 2020 Tokyo Olympics, something he cannot achieve with double trap.
Even though Mittal is yet to announce a full-time shift to single trap shooting, he believes the shift won't be as difficult as perceived by many. He started out as a single trap shooter only to follow the footsteps of his father Ashok Mittal and brother Ajay Mittal, who enjoyed success in the double trap category. Mittal wanted to make the most of their experience in the category to excel in it and so far he hasn't disappointed.
Mittal's father failed to make the early promise in his career count, but has left no stone unturned in ensuring that his son is able to realise his full potential. He moved base from Sonepat to New Delhi so that his son has a shooting range to train at.
The 25-year-old so far has justified his father's decision to relocate and a medal at the Gold Coast Games could further reinforce the significance of his father's call.
The color of the medal will also be something that could serve as a motivation for the youngster who missed out on gold medals by a mere point at ISSF Shooting World Cup and ISSF World Shotgun Championships last year. While the silver at these events was an upgrade over his semi-final appearance in the 2014 Commonwealth Games, it's only a gold medal at a competition of the highest level that eludes him.
“I’m just happy to have won my first World Cup medal. I’m slightly disappointed. But I can’t really blame anyone, since I was the one shooting,” Ankur had told Firstpost right after the World Cup in February last year.
With Mittal putting the onus of going a step better at the 2018 Commonwealth Games all on himself, his love for double trap shooting and a possible last hurrah in the category at the top level could prove to be a catalyst for the greatest achievement of his career till date.
While lofty expectations of his compatriots may add pressure, Mittal could just have gathered enough steam in the past year to take it in his stride.
Click here to read profiles of other Indian athletes involved in the Commonwealth Games 2018
Updated Date: Mar 17, 2018 11:59 AM