For most of the Asian Games, India’s shooting contingent had a smile on their faces. They raked in a record 22 medals in Hangzhou – a haul of seven golds, nine silvers, and six bronze medals that comfortably surpassed the previous mark of 14 set in 2006 at Doha. This must be celebrated because it showcases the depth of the shooting scene in India. For any sport to scale higher peaks, depth is a prerequisite. The performance will push shooters at the national level to their limits if they want to represent India at the international level. So, in a sense, it is a very good sign. But step back and look at the bigger picture: India had 19 individual finalists across events in shooting. Just two of them won gold, and only eight others had silver or bronze. Going into the Olympics, this particular statistic matters most, for there will be no team events at Paris 2024.
India’s shooters have tended to do well in the qualification rounds but with people watching, their well-set routines come under stress. They aren’t able to shoot as they usually do. This isn’t about technique; this is purely about mindset. We saw a glimpse of that at Hangzhou, too, and this particular failing will need to be addressed before the Olympics begin in July next year. So, India will need a dash of individual genius to find medals at Paris. Over the last couple of Olympics (Rio and Tokyo), the shooters have stumbled at the final hurdle. It won’t be easy, but success at the highest level never is.