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Kolhapur-based rifle shooter, Swaroop Mahavir Unhalkar, who has been living with polio since childhood, has been selected for the IPC Shooting World Cup 2017, to be held from November 5 to 12 in Bangkok. While the prestigious event will see altogether 11 rifle shooters from across the country, Unhalkar is the only entry from the state. The selection rounds were conducted by the Paralympic Committee of India in Delhi about 10 days ago.
Unhalkar was selected based on his performance in Kumar Surinder Singh Competition that was held in July 2017 in Delhi, where he had won gold with 609 points.
Over the last four months, Unhalkar has been training at Pune’s Balewadi Sports Complex and Guns For Glory Shooting Academy, under the guidance of coaches Pawan Singh and Anton Belak. “If I am able to perform well in this championship , I will be eligible to participate in the World Championship, which will be held in South Korea in May. Ever since I started training under an international coach, my game and score has improved. I am targeting to score around 615 points and win medals,” said Unhalkar, who has won three gold and one silver medals in the four editions of the Gun For Glory Shooting Championship between 2012 and 2015.
Though he has been practicing rifle-shooting since 2009, he started participating in shooting competitions from 2012 onwards. “Earlier, I would use rifles that were 10 to 15 years old and were used by sports academy in Kolhapur. Till a few years ago, I didn’t even have my own equipment kit to participate in national and international rifle-shooting events,” he said, adding that despite lack of equipment, he continued participating in the events.
He participated in various state-level competitions —National Games from 2012 to 2015 and USA Rifle Shooting World Cup 2014.
In February, Unhalkar participated in the 2017 World Shooting Para Sport World Cup that was held in February in Al Ain, UAE. In 2016, Kolhapur MLA Chandrakant Patil came forward to sponsor his kit and imported equipment, that costs nearly Rs 3 lakh.