Hoping for a change in fortunes

Asian Games haven't been an arena of delight for the Indians

Hoping for  a change in fortunes

What can we expect from the shooting brigade at Incheon?Over the last decade, the sport has emerged as a main medal hope for India in major international competitions. But the Asian Games have offered a harder challenge and due to various reasons, the Indians have found it tough to climb the top of the podium in the continental bash.

Incheon is not going to be any different. It comes at the end of a long season and having targeted success at the Commonwealth Games and then coming up against a seriously hot competition at the World Championships in Spain, it will be an acid test for the Indians to raise their levels at Incheon.

Expectations were raised sky high before India boarded the flight to Guangzhou last time but the returns didn’t match those, with Ronjan Sodhi’s gold in double trap being their only top of the podium finish. India did pick up eight medals though, with several heart-breaks coming along the way.

China once again looms as a barrier in front while the Koreans too will be a bunch of hard rivals at home. The Indians, spearheaded by Abhinav Bindra, will have to be at their best to strike gold.

Bindra is yet to taste a gold medal success at the Asiad and he had a bitter time in Guangzhou. With a first individual Commonwealth Games gold in his pocket, the air rifle ace will be eyeing a chance to set the record straight in an event where silver winner from Guangzhou, Gagan Narang, will be absent.

Narang will be taking aim in 50M rifle three-position and prone events and having missed out on a chance to make a mark at the World Championships, he will be eager to savour some success.

India’s main hope is likely to be Jitu Rai, who has emerged as a consistent performer this time. With a World Championship silver (50M pistol) in his pocket, Rai will take aim with tons of confidence in 10M air pistol and 50M pistol events. Also in fray will be Prakash Nanjappa, who studded his comeback with a silver in Glasgow.

After a stupendous show in World Cups, Heena Sidhu has hit a trough of late, failing to make the final in the World Championships. She will be attempting to come out of it at Incheon while trap ace Manavjit Singh Sandhu, who showed good form in Granada despite missing out on a spot in the medal round, and Olympic silver medallist Vijay Kumar will be hoping for a brighter day in Incheon.

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