Indian teenager Shapath Bhardawaj has now qualified for the prestigious ISSF World Cup Finals for shooting.
Having become the country’s youngest athlete to figure in the government’s Target Olympic Podium (TOP) scheme, the 15-year-old, who clinched an individual bronze medal in the Junior World Cup in Italy last month, will compete in men’s double trap alongside Ankur Mittal and Sangram Dahiya.
The World Cup finals, the most prestigious annual tournament of the International Shooting Sport Federation, will be held at the Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range next month.
Champion pistol shooter Jitu Rai, Ravi Kumar (10m air rifle), Pooja Ghatkar (10m air rifle), Amanpreet Singh ((50m pistol), Meghana Sajjanar and Deepak Kumar (10m mixed air rifle), Rai and Heena Sidhu (10m air pistol mixed) will be seen in action.
Rai will be competing in three events – 10m air pistol and 50m pistol – besides mixed team.
The players qualified for the tournament based on their performances in a series of three World Cups held in India, Mexico and Cyprus respectively.
Besides his junior bronze in Lonato, Shapath has won the team gold medal at the Shotgun World Cup in Moscow recently.
The Meerut-based Bhardwaj, a student of class 10, is among 45 elite athletes, including Olympic medallists PV Sindhu, Sakshi Malik and Saina Nehwal, to be selected for the TOP scheme.
Bhardwaj attracted the attention of the shooting fraternity when he was selected for Indias double trap team at the age of 14 after selection trails in Patiala in November last year.
He represented India along with his senior teammates Ankur Mittal and Sangram Dahya in the ISSF World Cup, Delhi in February and then at the ISSF World Cup in Mexico in April where he secured 10th and 12th ranks respectively.
He then secured the fourth position in qualifying round of the ISSF World Cup in Cyprus in May and topped the 22 shot shoot-off to enter the final where he finished sixth.
Bhardwaj participated in the ninth International Junior Shotgun Cup held in Finland in July and scored 137 out of 150 as India won the gold. He ended up winning the individual as well as team gold in the International Junior Grand Prix in Italy last year.