As we move closer towards Rio 2016, the expectations from Indian athletes keep growing. Be it the athletes, fans, coaches or former players, the confidence is very high in the Indian camp. We at Sports Rediscovered chatted with ace shooter Anjali Bhagwat and Arjuna Awardee swimmer Rehan Poncha. Both these sportspersons gave us insights on the swimming and shooting contingents and their expectations from the same.
Indian Shooters Will Deliver Their Best Ever Performance At Rio 2016: Anjali Bhagwat
Anjali Bhagwat is without a doubt, one of the best shooters India has ever produced. A 31-time international gold medalist which include 13 Commonwealth Games Gold medals, Anjali has been following the current Indian shooting scenario very closely as she is an expert panelist of Star Sports for Rio 2016. Here are excerpts from her conversation:
SR: First of all, it is an honour talking to you. This year we have a talented and a sizable shooting contingent going into Rio 2016. Your thoughts on them?
ANJALI: I am very happy with this year’s contingent. They are an exciting mix of youth and experience and all twelve shooters have shown a lot of promise over the last calendar year. They have proven their worth at the international level time and again and have been training like professionals. The federation has given the players complete freedom and access to trainers, physiotherapists etc and thanks to non-profit organizations like Olympic Gold Quest, players have better-quality training facilities, better ammunition and world-class coaches to train under.
SR: This year we are seeing some serious medal prospects like Jitu Rai who has been impressive throughout his career. Your comments on him.
ANJALI: Definitely! Jitu Rai is one of our best bets and having seen him train, he carries a different attitude towards the game. He is aware of the fact that being a Services personnel, the Army and the Indian government have invested a lot in him and he treats his game with utmost respect. He is currently World no. 2 in his event and he looks in great shape at the moment.
SR: How important will be the support of seniors like Gagan Narang, Abhinav Bindra and Manavjit Singh Sandhu to the entire Indian Olympic contingent?
ANJALI: I was very happy when I came to know that Abhinav has been named as the flag bearer for Rio 2016. He himself is an Olympic Gold medalist and all the other athletes will look up to him as a source of inspiration. Apart from him, Gagan Narang and Manavjit will also be instrumental in taking this contingent forward, given their level of experience on the international stage.
Will Expect The Indian Swimmers To Better Their Personal Record: Rehan Poncha
We also caught up with Arjuna awardee and five-time national swimming champion Rehan Poncha and drew his insights on the Indian swimming duo that has qualified for Rio 2016. Rehan qualified for the men’s 200 m butterfly event at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and was placed in the top 40.
22 year-old Sajan Prakash from Kerala became the first Indian to break the 2-minute barrier in the 200 m butterfly during his rich medal haul at the 35th National Games which were held in his native state. He bagged eight medals in this competition- Six golds and two silvers. He clocked his personal best time of 1:59, which is also a new national record.
Sajan will be accompanied by another talented swimmer Shivani Kataria who will be the first Indian woman swimmer to qualify for the Olympics since Shikha Tandon in 2004. Here is what Rehan had to say about these young athletes:
“Sajan and I have been team mates and I have known him personally. He is a very hardworking young boy and has become the first Indian to break the two minute barrier, which in itself is a big achievement. To make it to the semi-finals, he will have to be a second or two quicker. I also got a chance to interact with Shivani and she seems to be a confident young girl. Both swimmers come with very little international exposure but they should use Rio 2016 as a learning platform.”
Star Sports is the Official Broadcaster for the 2016 Olympics. Stay tuned for more updates.