Commonwealth Games 2014: Abhinav Bindra, Heena Sidhu Look to Start With Bang in Shooting
Having won a staggering 30 medals, including 14 gold, in the last Commonwealth Games edition in New Delhi, the expectations will understandably be high from the shooters who will be converging at the Barry Buddon Shooting Range.
Olympic gold medallist Abhinav Bindra and world number one in women's 10-metre air pistol, Heena Sidhu, are expected to set the tone for the strong Indian shooting team, which begins its campaign in the 20th Commonwealth Games here on Friday. (Also read: Analysing India's medal prospects at CWG)
The other Indian shooters in action on the second day of competition will be Ravi Kumar (10-m air rifle), Malaika Goel (10-m air pistol), Arti Singh Rao and Mairaj Ahmad Khan -- in women's and men's skeet events, respectively. (Also read: CWG opens in colourful, moving ceremony)
Having won a staggering 30 medals, including 14 gold, in the last edition in New Delhi, the expectations will understandably be high from the shooters who will be converging at the Barry Buddon Shooting Range.
The 24-year-old Sidhu has been a consistent performer over the past one year and will look to use it to her advantage when she takes aim in her pet event early in the morning on Friday. (Also read: Delhi and Glasgow games like 'chalk and cheese', says CWG federation)
Confidence-wise, she will be on a high having achieved the numero uno spot following her historic triumph at the Munich World Cup last November.
India will expect Sidhu to make a solid start for the contingent, which, despite fewer events, remains the country's best bet in multi-sport extravaganzas.
She will have Bindra for company, albeit in the 10-metre air rifle hall, where the 31-year-old Beijing Olympic gold medallist will hope to do one better than the Delhi edition four years ago.
Bindra had finished second to Gagan Narang in front of the home crowd but in the absence of the Hyderabad-based pro, who's failed to make the cut in 10-m air rifle event this time, the Zirakhpur shooter will fancy his chances even more.
Though he has, in his trophy cabinet, the ultimate prize all athletes dream of, Bindra has so far failed to win an individual gold medal in his pet event at the Commonwealth Games.
If he can replicate the form that saw him clinch the top prize in Beijing six years ago and become the first individual yellow metal winner from India in the biggest sporting event, a CWG gold does not seem far-fetched.
Barely 17, Malaika Goel, who is supported by non-profit organisation Olympic Gold Quest, is a bright prospect at the Games.
She beat a world-class field of Indian women pistol shooters, including world cup medal winners Rahi Sarnobat, Heena Sidhu and Annuraj Singh, to win the National 10m air pistol gold medal in December last year.
She won a silver medal at the Senior National Championships in December 2012 and in February 2013 she went on to win the National trials where she beat top senior shooters of the country. She also bagged a silver medal at the Asian Air Gun Championships in China in December 2012.
Ravi Kumar of Air Force can always take confidence from his stunning win over Bindra in the 10 meter Air Rifle event's qualification round at the National Shooting championship last December.
Ravi Kumar had won both the Kumar Surendra Singh championship and the Sardar Sajjan Singh Sethi Masters gold medals earlier that season in 2013.
Former national champion Mairaj Ahmad Khan and Arti Singh Rao will also be keen to impress in their respective skeet events.