Ballari: Ace Indian rifle shooter Apurvi Chandela feels the pressure of expectations from the Indian shooting contingent is not going to affect their performance as they know how to "cut that off" and focus on the upcoming Tokyo Olympics where they will go as one of the favourites.
India will have a record of at least 15 participants at the Tokyo Olympics, which is three more than the 2016 Rio Olympics, with a few others potentially joining the fray based on ranking as the Games get closer.
The Indian rifle and pistol shooters have been in phenomenal form over the past two years and in 2019, they topped the charts at all four World Cups, pocketing a total of 22 medals out of which as many as 16 were gold.
"Pressure helps as something needs to define the line between practice and a match and that's what pressure does," Apurvi told IANS on the sidelines of a seven-day conditioning camp for the 10 shooters at the Inspire Institute of Sport here.
"I think you are more aware of the kind of mistakes that you are going to make (under pressure), so in that way you are alert."
Apurvi secured an Olympic quota with a bronze at the 2018 World Cup in Changwon.
"They have always been there throughout no matter which competitions we go for whether it's Commonwealth, Asian Games or Olympics. Expectations are always there, so it's nothing new for us. We know how to cut that off and focus on our own game. That's what is going to matter at the end of the day," said the 2014 Commonwealth Games gold medallist.
"We definitely have a very strong team. Everyone's working hard and I am sure everyone's going to give their best and make the country proud," added the 27-year-old Jaipur girl.
Emerging as a top medal contender at the Rio Games, Apurvi "went blank" four years back at the biggest stage.
"It's good that I experienced whatever I did in Rio," said Apurvi, who achieved the world number one position in the women's 10m air rifle event in May last year.
"Because now I am more prepared in terms of I know what's coming my way. So it won't be a surprise for me now. So training is on point, I am still working hard. Hopefully everything is going to be in my favour."
Talking about her preparations leading up to the Games, she said: "It's been good. I have had a good month. I had a few targets in mind which I have achieved. So I am satisfied with overall training and competition I had. This was a nice break from shooting. It's a good relief because we don't have an off season as such. We have competitions and you have to keep doing well in all of them.
"Focus is now on whole process of my shooting. My technique. All of that. Also working with my whole team as of now. We have a plan in mind and we also have lot of test events, we will be having training camps before that so the team will be together that time. All of these things are lined up."
Besides Apurvi, the likes of Manu Bhaker, Anjum Moudgil, Abhishek Sharma, Rahi Sarnobat, Deepak Kumar, Aishwary Pratap Singh Tomar, Divyansh Singh Panwar, Chinki Yadav and Mairaj Ahmed Khan attended the conditioning camp here. The shooters also had a fun tour day at Hampi which is a famous tourist destination.
"The session on periodisation was good. Also the gym facilities here are amazing. The food that is being provided here is also really good. They have sections like fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, fibre which is very helpful.
"We went to Hampi which has been on the list for a long time. It was good to visit today and it's a beautiful place. I like knowing about history," said Apurvi.
"February was the only month we did not have anything as such. Like no competition to play. Or no training camp. So this was fine for five days. It wasn't going away from our programme. Going back there are lot of things lined up for me. In January I was out, I have got some equipment I want to try that. This is the only time I will get, like the kit and everything," she concluded.
BY DEBAYAN MUKHERJEE
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