Name: Jitu Rai
Event: Shooting (50m Free Pistol, 10m Air Pistol)
CWG appearance: Gold in 50m Air Pistol at Glasgow in 2014
Biggest win: Gold in 50m Air Pistol at 2014 Asian Games
With no Abhinav Bindra this year, the 30-year old Jitu Rai is India’s best hope of clinching gold in shooting at the Commonwealth Games. Rai, who first burst onto the scene in 2007, had a humble beginning. The marksman, who was farming in eastern Nepal in 2006, started the sport after he applied to join the British Army at 20. Hailing from Sankhuwasabha in Nepal, Rai had to face setbacks after he was sent back twice from the Army Marksman Unit in Mhow for poor performances before he became a permanent fixture.
But finally he went on to make a mark on the world stage in 2013 when he won three ISSF World Cup medals. He won silver in the 10m Air Pistol event at the World Cup at Munich and then won another silver in the 50m Pistol category. He later won a gold in the 10m Air Pistol event in Maribor in the same year.
In 2014, he continued his form at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow where he struck gold in 50m pistol category. In the same year, he won a silver in the 50m Pistol category at ISSF World Shooting Championships in Granada. Jitu’s biggest win came at the Asian Games in the same year when a struck a gold in the 50m category. He later struck bronze in the 10m pistol team category with Samaresh Jung and Prakash Nanjappa.
He went on to compete in the Rio Olympics in 2016 but recorded a disappointing eight position at the big stage in the 10m pistol while a 14th position in the 50 m pistol events. But his performances over the year earned him the Khel Ratna award, the highest sporting honour in the country in 2014.
In the year 2017, he teamed up with Heena Sidhu at the ISSF World Cup where the team won the 10m air pistol mixed event. He capped off the year with two bronze medals at the Commonwealth Shooting Championships in the 10m Air Pistol category and the 50m pistol event.