EARLIER THIS week, Chandigarh resident 19-year-old Arjun Babuta had to wait for over 16 hours at Kuala Lumpur Airport in Malaysia due to an e-visa glitch by all-India universities officials after the World University Championships, which resulted in Indian shooters missing their flight to Australia. Babuta arrived in Sydney on Monday night and won a bronze medal in men’s Junior 10 m air rifle event with a score of 226.3 points at the Junior World Cup in Australia. China’s Liu Yuqi won gold and Hungary’s Zalan Pekler silver.
“It was tough in terms of mental and physical strength as we had to wait at the airport, while we saw other shooters depart. When I landed in Australia and attended my first training session, my fingers were shaking due to lack of rest. But the last two days saw us training hard. I had a good score in qualification and knew I can bounce back in the finals. I was leading after 20 shots in the final with four shots remaining, but a 9.9 shot meant that I had to contend with a bronze medal. This is my second medal in the Junior World Cup, but I will cherish the medal more since it came in tough conditions,” shared Babuta, a student of BA in DAV College, Sector 10.
National rifle coach Deepak Kumar Dubey, who is in Australia with the team, rates Babuta highly, too. “His strength has been consistency and he showed that in the final. He had just one bad shot, but to win a medal after a long travel speaks of his talent. He is among India’s top three shooters in the 10 m air rifle now,” said Dubey.
Babuta, whose father Neeraj Babuta is a station master with Indian Railways in Ferozepur, shifted his base to Chandigarh in 2013 and claimed the 10 m air rifle title in the Punjab Senior/Youth Junior Championships in 2015. The youngster won a bronze in the Junior World Cup in Gabala, Azerbaijan, in 2016 before winning silver in the Asian Airgun Championships in Wako City, Japan, in December. Babuta then went on to win the silver in the 61st National Shooting Championships in Kerala. In the final selection trials list released in February, Babuta ranked third in the national rankings behind Ravi Kumar and Deepak Kumar.
“I missed the CWG team by just 0.3 points. But I have shot consistently throughout the year and Mexico World Cup and Junior World Cup were an opportunity for me to win a medal. I am also in the Indian team for the remaining three world cups this year and with the 2020 Olympic quota places up for grab after August, I am aiming at securing the berth for India,” shared the youngster.