Gun shooter Anjum Moudgil is fortunately slowly building up after bronze

The noise at the gun club here was deafening. The cheers of the spectators packed into a small hall were amplified by the ‘dhol’ beats elsewhere on the firing range. Amid this chaos, India’s top rifle and pistol shooters such as Anjum Moudgil and Rhythm Sangwan were focused and on target, leading to some exciting finals at the National Games on Monday.

It was a good test for the shooters for the World Championships in Cairo next month, where they would also compete for qualifying spots or quotas for the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

The short-term National Games may have caught them off guard a bit, but it hasn’t derailed their preparations. With only the top 16 ranked shooters taking part here, it’s going to be a good chance to get sharp for the worlds.

Moudgil, for example, didn’t mind entering the Games, having taken a short break after winning bronze at the World Cup in Changwon in July.

“After Korea, I haven’t played a single game. I wasn’t feeling well, so I took a break from early September. I was just trying to recover for the World Cup. This event was good to test my preparedness and see how I perform with less intensity in training,” said Moudgil, who won bronze in the 50m rifle three position on Monday.

The 28-year-old Chandigarh shooter has been in excellent form this season, putting the debacle of the Tokyo Olympics behind him. She is currently the number 1 in the world after winning silver and bronze at the World Cup.

“The competition here was extremely tough in some events as only the top 16 were there. The atmosphere was great, the noise only added to the pressure. The level of competition at home is high, it really pushes us even more,” she said.

“After being number 1 in the world rankings, I started working on my basics again. I just don’t want to fly high with these achievements.”

Moudgil had won India’s first Olympic quota spot for Tokyo at the World Championships four years ago, in the women’s 10m air rifle four years ago. While she’s also eager to secure a berth this time around, 21-year-old Sift Kaur Samra from Punjab was also excited to compete in her first major event: World Championships. She defeated Shriyanka Sadangi of Odisha 18-16 in a nail-biting duel in the final elimination shootout for gold.

“I participated in the Cairo World Cup this year and that experience will help,” said Samra, who won gold for the Junior World Cup in Suhl, Germany.

“It was my first international season and I won a gold medal outside India. The gold of the National Games is my first medal at the highest level. That encourages me,” says Samra, who, as a first-year MBBS student, juggles between shooting and medicine.

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