Last month, Anjum Moudgil missed the final in the 50m Rifle 3 Positions event at the Asian Games after finishing ninth in qualification. A poor standing series was to blame. The 24-year-old shooter would pack her bags immediately and depart for Korea to compete at the ISSF World Cup. It allowed her to train extensively at the Changwon International Shooting Range for a week and it reaped rewards.
On Monday, Moudgil became the only Indian woman shooter to win a medal in the 10m Air Rifle event, a silver behind Hana Im of Korea. Moudgil’s silver and Apurvi Chandela’s fourth-place finish meant that India earned two quota places for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics at the earliest possible opportunity.
“Missing out on a medal at the Asian Games was a disappointment but then it was due to one bad series. We came here on the 23rd and it meant I could spend the last 3-4 day training at the 10m Air Rifle range. A medal here in the 10m Air Rifle event was one of the targets. I missed the final at the World Cup held here earlier this year but that helped me understand the conditions here,” shared Moudgil from Changwon.
While Moudgil won a silver medal in the women’s 50m 3P event at the ISSF World Cup in Mexico in March and narrowly missed the medal in Munich later, it was only the third time in her senior international career that the shooter reached the final of 10mAir Rifle event.
With the NRAI selection policy for the 2020 Olympics considers results at eight international events starting from the Asian Games and ending at the trials after the World Cup in 2020, Moudgil knows it is the start of a crucial phase for her.
A good shoot away
“When I started rifle shooting, my coach MS Chauhan told me to focus on 10m air rifle events too as it will complement my scores in the standing series in the Rifle 3P events. After shooting in all the three events for the past one decade, I firmly believe that a good performance in one event will always propel you to do better in the other two events. And even if one performs bad in one event, it means that there is always a chance to improve in the other events,” she said.
She admitted it’s tough, both mentally and physically. “Yes, it is tough mentally as well as physically but competing all these years has taught me a lot. To win a medal and earn a quota place for Tokyo here will help me in my other two events too,” said Moudgil.
Back in 2008, when she started shooting as part of her NCC training, Moudgil would finish 22nd in 10m Air Rifle, apart from seventh and 14th-place finishes in 50m Rifle 3P and prone events respectively.
But the Chandigarh shooter would win more than 25 medals in various categories in the much demanding 3P event at the nationals, including last year’s gold medal. While other shooters would focus only on the 50m 3P events, Moudgil always made sure she spent the same time training for Air Rifle.
“Anjum started with pistol early on the insistence of her mother but at the centre, we found her suitable for 50m event as she was quick to grasp the basics,” Chauhan, a former NCC Group Commander Chandigarh, said.
“In 2008, we got eight .22 rifles for training. Six months later, we got one 10m Air Rifle and Anjum would train with that too. It was 50-50 in terms of training at that time for her.”
Moudgil’s qualification score of 628.7 was also her highest in ISSF events in the 10m Air Rifle. Chandela shot a score of 625.7 to qualify in sixth place in the 133-shooter field. The final also saw the likes of defending world champion Petra Zublasing of Italy and Munich World Cup champion Shin-Ying Lin of Chinese Taipei.
Moudgil was leading Hana by a slender .1 after the 12th shot but four shots below 10 meant she had to be content with the silver medal.
“The decimal format in Air Rifle means there is more focus on accuracy and Anjum understands that well. She has been shooting with an uncomplicated mind and does not get too much into details. And after all these years, she knows how to balance all the three events,” shared national coach and Moudgil’s personal coach Deepali Deshpande.