New Delhi, March 24 (IANS) Seasoned shooter Jitu Rai has put the setback of the Rio Olympics in 2016 behind him and is confident of a podium finish as he prepares for the Commonwealth Games starting April 4 Gold Coast in Australia.
In an interaction with IANS here, the Nepal-born shooter said he has worked hard on his shortcomings, and is aiming to win the gold medal in the upcoming CWG.
The 2016 Summer Games turned out to be a flop show by the Indian shooters, with Jitu, a prime medal prospect failing to qualify for the men’s 50-metre pistol, his pet event as well as the 10m air pistol event with a eighth-place finish.
“All my dreams were shattered at Rio, but I have worked hard to put those behind me now. The preparations have really been good, all the shooters are doing really well in the training camp for the CWG,” Jitu said.
“Personally, I have worked on a few technical shortcomings which I believe will help me perform better in Australia.
“I have been working on my mental as well as physical strength and conditioning. The aim is definitely on winning the gold medal and I am confident of a podium finish at Gold Coast,” added Jitu, the 50m pistol gold medallist at the 2014 Glasgow CWG.
Asked about his technique which has fetched him and the country a rich haul of medals, the Indian Army marksman said: “Every shooter has a different technique. Some will shoot after 15 seconds or some will shoot later. I have my own technique and rhythm is important for me.”
Jitu, who clinched the gold in 50m pistol and bronze in men’s 10m air pistol team event at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, however is worried over recent media reports which suggested that shooting will be dropped from the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham due to logistical issues.
“Yes, it will be a huge loss to India because shooting is one sport which gives the country a lot of medals. I am personally disappointed that shooting is most likely to be dropped from the 2022 CWG,” he said.
The 30-year-old Jitu, however preferred to be optimistic, saying that the sport will not be dropped permanently and may return for the next edition. It is to be noted that shooting continues to remain in the optional category.
“But it is not that shooting will be dropped forever or continuously. It is the choice of the organisers of a particular CWG as it is an optional sport. It (shooting) may return in another Commonwealth Games, it all depends on the host country,” Jitu said.
Asked whether he was on the same page as former shooter Jaspal Rana, who suggested a complete boycott by India of the 2022 CWG, Jitu said: “I feel it is not advisable to boycott a particular Games by India on the ground that shooting is not there.”
If shooting is axed from the Games roster, it would come as a massive blow to India, which has done quite well in the sport. India is second in the CWG’s all-time medal list for shooting, having 118 medals so far — 56 of them gold.
(Tridib Baparnash can be contacted at [email protected])