Olympic champion Abhinav Bindra will be checking into the Games Village in London a few days ahead of the other Indian shooters for the upcoming edition of the quadrennial extravaganza in the British capital.
One of India’s brightest medal hopes, Bindra will be defending the historic gold medal he won in Beijing four years ago in the 10-metre air rifle event.
“Abhinav will be reaching the Games Village before us. He will practice for four to five days and then take a break,” national coach Sunny Thomas told PTI.
The other shooters are planning to arrive at the village on July 21, six days prior to the opening ceremony on July 27, according to Thomas.
Bindra along with Gagan Narang will be representing India in the 10-metre event, and both are seen as bright medal prospects.
Thomas also said that some of India’s top shooters, including Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna awardee Narang, will be leaving for Germany on Friday for their final phase of preparations for the upcoming Games.
Besides Narang, those travelling to Germany are Heena Sidhu, Rahi Sarnobat, Annu Raj Singh and Vijay Kumar.
Joydeep Karmakar has been in Germany for a while, training with Bindra and coach Heinz Reinkemeier, who helped the 10-metre rifle ace from Zirakpur, Punjab clinch the gold in Beijing.
Bindra shot impressive scores in the two competitions at the Training Camp London for select shooters in an event in France last week.
Another London-bound Indian shooter, who has also competed in the event, was Joydeep Karmakar.
“We are leaving for Germany on July 6 and the plan is to reach London around July 21,” Thomas said.
In what is certainly good news for the pistol shooters, Thomas said that they, this time around, will be able to use their own ammunitions to suit their barrels.
“Shooters like Gagan, Joydeep Karmakar and Sanjeev Rajput went to Birmingham to get their selected ammunitions suitable to their barrel for prone and 3-pistol (events),” Thomas said.
Indian shooting has been on the up for the past few years, thanks to the shooters’ impressive showings at the international stage, which included medals in the Olympics, Commonwealth Games, Asian Games, World Cups and World Championships.
The country could boast of world record holders like Ronjan Sodhi, Manavjit Singh Sandhu and Narang.
Asked about the Indian shooters’ prospects in London, Thomas sounded optimistic.
“The numbers (of shooters) have gone up from nine (in Beijing Games) to 11 this time and the confidence also has gone up after we won medals in Athens (Rajyavardhan Rathore’s silver in 2004) and Beijing,” he said.
That the shooters are leaving no stone unturned in their quest to return home with a rich haul, only adds to the hopes and expectations.
“They have been training hard for long periods and played in a lot of competitions.
“The effort is to bring them to peak form at the time of Olympics. That is what matters and not what we have done in the past. Previous outings don’t matter.”