New Delhi: Shooting has always been India’s strength in the Commonwealth Games and this time around the shooters promise to better their previous records.
“Look, we are going to win more than 30 medals this time. We, as hosts, must win more medals than Melbourne, which was 27. It was a different feeling then. But on the home ground the expectations would be even more,” said skeet shooter Mairaj Khan.
Khan has garnered high praise from CWG Organising Committee vice-chairman Randhir Singh, who himself was an Olympian shooter.
“Mairaj is one of our best shooters. He is surely our would-be medal winner this year,” said Randhir during a guided media tour of the Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range yesterday.
India finished on top in the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games with 27 medals -- 16 gold, seven silver and four bronze, four medals clear of Australia.
Shooting alone accounted for more than 50 percent of the total number of medals fourth-placed India won at Melbourne.
“We have the best shooters in the world like Ronjan Sodhi (trap) and Mairaz Khan along with Samaresh Jung and Abhinav Bindra. So we are providing them with the best,” Randhir said while talking about the state-of-the-art shooting range.
Khan, who feels that the Delhi Games is going to be phenomenal, insisted that depite being showered with praises, there would not be any pressure of expectations.
“I’m not feeling any kind of pressure because I know this is my place. This is my kingdom and I am very strong here. I have grown up practising in this range. I know this place very well,” Khan said.
However, the range’s administrator Manmeet Singh said he fails to understand why everyone is talking about India having a home-range advantage.
“Home range advantage is something I do not understand. As far as I know, no one has any kind of advantage here.”
Meanwhile, Khan thinks Cyprus is going to be one of the toughest competitors in the shooting event.
“In my event (skeet shooting) at least, it is going to be Cyprus. The competitor from there used to be my coach and I had trained under him a few years back. I went to Cyprus to train under him because he was one of the best shooters in the world.
“He was more like a training partner but he coached me on certain things like how to hold the gun and move the target. He basically told me about the technical part of the game,” the skeet shooter said.
Cyprus has made a name for itself in this event and is considered as a major threat. It won gold in both men and women skeet and pair skeet competitions in Melbourne, finishing fourth in overall competition.
Asked if he was satisfied with the range, hailed as one of the best in the world, Khan said, “I’m a very modest guy. I never complain about anything.”