India’s depth in women’s 10m air rifle shooting is unparalleled. Besides battle-hardened veterans like Anjum Moudgil and Apurvi Chandela are youngsters like Mehuli Ghosh and Elavenil Valarivan. Despite the intense competition, Ghosh says there’s always been a healthy camaraderie between the four shooters.
“We all are very good friends. When we’re not at the range we don’t talk too much about shooting. It’s all laughter and fun between the four of us off the range,” Mehuli told Firstpost. “Whenever Elavenil or I ask for shooting advice from Anjum or Apurvi, they always tell us ‘you guys are doing so well. Why are you asking us for advice. We should be the ones asking for your advice!’”
With ISSF rules allowing only two shooters from a country to participate in the main qualifying event at World Cups, the 19-year-old has had to shoot in Minimum Qualification Score (MQS) segment at World Cups. She’s done exceedingly well in MQS, with her qualifying scores good enough for her to have qualified for finals at three Worlds Cups.
Her big chance in 2019 arrived when she was handed the opportunity to shoot in the main draw at the ISSF World Cup Finals in Putian, China. However, she could only finish sixth, with Elavenil winning gold. Elavenil, who is a year elder to Ghosh, has had a standout year, winning golds at Rio World Cup and World Cup Finals, besides finishing fourth at the Munich World Cup. She also bagged the prestigious Golden Target Award from the ISSF at the end of 2019 in the women’s 10m air rifle event.
Ghosh says the level of competition in the women’s 10m air rifle section is pushing all four shooters to perform better.
“The competition is very high. We’re shooting almost the same score in every competition. It’s hard for others to choose who the best is. In 2019, the Indian team was so strong that maybe it was the best Indian team in recent history. The strong competition amongst Indian shooters helps all of us to perform much better in international competitions. Each of us is pushing the other to constantly perform better and better,” said Ghosh, who also lauded the Khelo India Games for helping shape the next generation of shooters by giving them a high-quality platform.
With the National Rifle Association of India implementing a comprehensive system of picking shooters to compete at next year’s Olympics, it’s unlikely that Ghosh will be at Tokyo. But she’s happy to keep making the best out of opportunities presented to her.
“The team for Tokyo 2020 will be decided after the March World Cup in New Delhi. My chances are low, but they’re still there,” said Ghosh, who has just returned from winning three medals including the gold at the 10m air rifle event at South Asian Games. Her individual gold in the 10m air rifle event came after she shot 253.3, better than Apurvi’s World Record score of 252.9. Unfortunately, the score won’t count as the ISSF does not consider SAG scores for world records.
Updated Date: Dec 18, 2019 08:43:13 IST