The creme de la creme of Indias young shooting talent will be fighting it out in a high-stake battle for two 10m Air Pistol gold medals in the inaugural edition of the Khelo India School Games at the Dr. Karni Singh Shooting Range. The two events for boys and girls will see the participations of several record holders and some world beaters.
The star attraction will be Uttar Pradeshs Saurabh Choudhary who will be representing India in the 2018 Youth Olympics to be held in Buenos Aires later this year. Riding on the back of a string of solid performances in 2017 that saw him winning a bronze medal in the team event at the ISSF Junior World Championships and two gold medals in individual and team events at the 10th Asian Airgun Championship, he is the No. 1 shooter in NRAI 10m Air Pistol Youth Men rankings.
The shooter from Meerut, however, will be facing tough challenge from Arjun Singh Cheema (Om Prakash Bansal Modern School, Mandi Gobindgarh, Punjab). Arjun, is currently ranked second in the NRAI rankings and won bronze in the ISSF Junior World Championships in Suhl, Germany, in the team event along with Saurabh.
Haryanas Manish Narwal (Kundan Green Valley Paradise School, Ballabgarh) is another strong contender. The silver medal that Manish clinched in the Para Shooting World Cup in November 2017 with a junior world record score 236.6 has given him the momentum to take on the best in the business. He also swept five para gold medals at the National Shooting Championships in Thiruvananthapuram last month.
The presence of the highly-talented Anish Bhanwala (St. Theresas Convent Senior Secondary School, Karnal) in the mix is bound to spice up the competition even further. He will be competing in the 10m event as his favourite 25m Standard Pistol event in which he won three medals including gold in the ISSF Junior World Championship and created a world record with a score of 576, is not part of the programme. Anish Bhanwala is capable of upstaging any of the pre-tournament favourites. Similarly, Adarsh Singh (Faridabad Model School, Faridabad), who won five gold medals in various disciplines in the 25m Standard Pistol event, will be also trying his chances.
? In the girls section, Haryanas Manu Bhaker (Universal Senior Secondary School) will be the top draw purely on form. The 16-year-old sensation stunned the seasoned Heena Sidhu in the 61st National Shooting Championship to clinch gold with a new National Record score of 242.3. Manu Bhakar won an incredible nine gold medals in the National championships in various disciples of her favourite event. Earlier, in December 2017, she sealed a spot in the 2018 Youth Olympics by claiming silver at the 10th Asian Airgun Championship in Wako City, Japan. Last week she also sealed her place in the 2018 Commonwealth Games-bound shooting team.
Manu Bhakers main challenge will come from Anushka Patil (Krida Prabodhini, Kolhapur), who is ranked fourth in the NRAI Youth Women rankings and Esha Singh, who won bronze in the mixed event in the 61st National Shooting Championship. The presence of Muskan Bhanwala in the lineup, who is ranked one place below Anushka in the NRAI rankings, will also ramp up the competition in the girls section. Both boys and girls events are scheduled for February 4.
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