Platform set for shooters' gold glut

Platform set for shooters' gold glut

Shooters fetched the maximum number of gold — 16 — for India at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games four years ago, and, understandably, high expectations are placed on them at the 19th edition of the Games, beginning here from October 3.
In that scenario, the refurbished venue offers the perfect platform for the Indian marksmen to perform another round of gold mining.

“You will see a stunning shooting range,” said range administrator Manmeet Singh Goindi before the winding journey to the venue, named after Maharaja Dr Karni Singh of the erstwhile princely state of Bikaner. Manmeet’s words were proved right as the afternoon unfolded.

The shooting range, originally built for the 1982 Asian Games, has been renovated beyond recognition with the touch of modernity obvious in every corner. However, delay in throwing it open to the shooters had forced the Indians to continue using the facilities at Belawadi, Pune.

Many feared that the late arrival of Indian shooters to the Karni Singh range would negate the home advantage factor, with the rifle and pistol teams scheduled to arrive here only next week. But Manmeet sought to allay such concerns. “Look, it’s almost the same conditions here (like in Pune), we have the same equipment and facilities. So, I don’t think our home advantage will be negated in any way,” Manmeet said.

“Last week Abhinav Bindra had tested the facilities and he was quite happy with what we have here. In his own words the facilities here are on par with Beijing.”

At the shot gun range, Ronjon Sodhi and Mairaj Ahmad Khan, Indian challengers in double trap and skeet respectively, backed Manmeet’s words. “The stadium has come a long way since the Commonwealth championships in February, the test event prior to the CWG. This is really a high-class area now,” Sodhi, a world record holder, said. “I have been training here for a while now, so I think it would be an advantage for me in and hopefully I can add to India’s gold tally,” he added.

There were some doubts over the competition readiness of the skeet range with faulty construction material and incessant rain rendering at least three ranges inactive. But Manmeet said the ranges are now completely ready to host the event.

“There were some problems with the skeet ranges, 4, 5, 6 to be precise, with some craters being created after the rain. We have worked over it over the last month or so and I can confidently say that the range is ready to host the shooting events. There are only some minor works remaining and that will be completed in a day or two,” he said.
IOA Secretary General Randhir Singh too contributed to the confidence-building measure. “We have some of the finest shooters in the world and one of the finest venues in the world here. Hopefully, we can better our Melbourne performance,” he said.

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