Shooters aim for bagful of medals in Commonwealth Games

New Delhi: There is little doubt that shooting is India`s best bet for medals in the Delhi Commonwealth Games but coach Sunny Thomas has his fingers crossed.

An expectant home crowd and the pressure of living upto their showings in the previous two editions of the Games are the reasons why Indian shooters might just find it difficult this time around, feels Thomas.

India won 27 medals, including 16 gold, in the last edition of the Games in Melbourne, and 24 medals in the 2002 Manchester Games, and according to Thomas, it takes years and years of rigorous training to do one better.

"We know that India`s best chance of winning maximum number of medals is shooting but the rising expectations put a lot of pressure on our shooters. We won 24 medals in Manchester but it took us four years to make it 27 and it will take an effort to make it 28 this time," Thomas said.

"But according to the existing selection policy, this is the best team we have, so we are confident of bettering our Melbourne performance," Thomas said in a thinly-veiled reference to Olympic silver-medallist Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore`s last-minute pull-out from the Games.

Rathore skipped the Games selection trials citing irregularities in selection procedure, but Thomas, instead of delving on the controversy over Rathore`s pull-out, preferred to stay positive.

"From five medals - three gold and two silver - in 1994 to 24 in Manchester and then 27 in Melbourne, it`s a huge achievement. It`s difficult when you look at those numbers but it should not be a big problem, winning more medals than the previous two editions," Thomas said.

But shooting, like any other sport, can throw up unexpected results.

"That`s what. The performance of the shooters in these sort of events depends a lot on mental condition, physical condition, atmosphere, surroundings and their performance on the given day," Thomas, who has been involved with the team for the past 17 years, told reporters.

To elaborate the uncertain nature of the sport, Thomas said, "Some shooters, who were expected to do well in the last World Championships in Germany, didn`t live upto the billing, while there were some less fancied ones who shot their best personal scores in the tournament. That`s where the surroundings and circumstances come into play. That`s why, I say, it`s not just about luck."


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