Indian shooting’s biggest party: Angad Bajwa leads 1-2 in skeet final at Asian Championships

Angad had become the national champion in 2018 before he won the gold medal at last year’s Asian Championships in Kuwait, where he matched American Vincent Hancock’s world record score of 60 in the final.

India will have unprecedented participation in the shooting competitions at the Olympics next year as six quota places at the Asian championships took the number of qualifiers to 15, a considerable improvement on the 12 at the 2016 Rio Games. There were 11 Indian shooters at the London Olympics seven years ago.

On Sunday, 23-year-old Angad Veer Singh Bajwa clinched the gold in the men’s skeet event in a shoot-off against compatriot Mairaj Ahmed. Both were tied at 56 out of 60 and Bajwa took it 6-5 for first place.

Bajwa had ended the qualification round tied with seven other shooters, including Ahmed, and earned the third qualification spot for the final behind Ahmed and Habib Saud of Kuwait. Both Indians bagged a quota each out of the three on offer for Tokyo Olympics.

“I knew it is the last chance for me and the conditions got too windy during the qualification round with a sandstorm near the range. I kept my cool and kept talking with my coach Tore Brovold when the round was stopped about concentrating on basics and that’s what I did in the final and the shoot-off,” Bajwa told The Indian Express.

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Son of Canada-based Gurpal Singh Bajwa, Angad wanted to be a pistol shooter first before shifting to shot gun shooting and opting for skeet. While Chandigarh and Dera Bassi, where the Bajwa family has a farmhouse, do not have a outdoor range, the youngster would initially travel to Patiala daily to practise before his father got a range built at the farmhouse.

The family had also moved to Canada to support Angad’s dream and the youngster had also become the youngest Canadian Open champion in Vancouver five years ago.

“Angad started with pistol shooting but later he was fascinated by the idea of the big gun shooting. And when he opted for skeet, we knew that he had to work hard in this event. And he would often read about the trajectories of the target on different skeet stations. Whenever Angad is in India, most of his time is spent on the range with his grandparents taking care of him. With us in Canada, he is almost on his own in India and it has also made him mature,” says Gurpal.

Angad had become the Indian national champion in 2018 before he won the gold medal at last year’s Asian Championships in Kuwait, where he matched American Vincent Hancock’s world record score of 60 in the final. Bajwa has occasionally trained with Hancock apart from training full-time under Norwegian coach Brovold, a 2008 Olympics silver medallist, as the youngster won the bronze medal in this year’s World University Games at Naples.

This year, Angad had competed in three world cups with his 45th-place finish with a score of 119 in Al Ain World Cup his best. The youngster had to miss the ISSF World Cup Korea after suffering a heat stroke while training in Delhi.

Prior to the Asian Championships, Angad also spent time in Cyprus training under Brovold. “Every day is a new day in shooting. The training in Cyprus earlier this year helped me work on my basics as well focusing on the process as whole. I had suffered a heat stroke earlier while training in Delhi and had to miss the world cup in Korea. So I focused on my fitness and lost some weight apart from working on improving upon my stamina,” concluded Bajwa.

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