A few months ago, when 22-year-old Angad Vir Singh Bajwa travelled to Dallas with father Gurpal to train and practise alongside double Olympic champion Vincent Hancock, the American shooter told Bajwa Senior about the only accolade missing from his collection.
With Hancock equalling the world record score of 59/60 in the final three times in his career, the shooter talked about his desire to shoot the perfect score. On Tuesday, as Angad set a world record score with a perfect 60/60 to claim the gold medal at the skeet event in the Asian Shotgun Championship in Kuwait, Gurpal was following the final from Canada.
“The last three years have seen Angad travelling to Canada, USA and Italy for training or practising in Chandigarh. Earlier this year, when Angad travelled to USA to train under Vincent Hancock for a couple of days, I asked Hancock about the only thing missing from his career. He told me about his desire to shoot a perfect 60/60 final. As Angad made the new world record today, I was reminded of that conversation,” shared Gurpal.
His father runs a hospitality business in Canada, and Angad went there for studies while competing at the national and international circuit representing Canada, where he also became the youngest open champion at 18. Three years ago, Angad shifted allegiance to India and won the gold medal at the Asian Junior Shotgun Championships at the same range in Kuwait, where he set the world record on Tuesday. Final included Asian Games silver medallist Jin Di of China, apart from four-time Olympian and 2011 World Cup gold medallist Saeed Al Makhtoum of UAE. Bajwa was tied in second spot with Makhtoum and Saud Habib of Kuwait at 121/125 after qualification with Di topping the charts. Angad shot 15 in the play-off to qualify in third place for the final.
“I had won the gold medal at the Asian Junior Championships at the same range in 2015. It was raining in qualification and I also suffered a one-shot penalty during the round. But the way I shot, I had pictured myself shooting 60/60 in the final. It was windy with Di and Makhtoum shooting ahead of me, and I just wanted to focus on my shots. With 15 shots remaining, I realised for the first time that I can achieve a perfect 60 and to win the gold medal with a world record always imparts confidence,” said Angad, who is supported by OGQ.
Angad had a training stint in Italy prior to the Asian Games, but missed the final in Indonesia by two shots. After a brief visit to meet his parents, he resumed training at his farmhouse with grandfather Sukhpal making sure nobody disturbed Angad. The last two months also saw Angad training under 2008 Olympics silver medallist Tore Brovold of Norway in Patiala.
“Missing the final in the Asian Games by two shots hurt a little but then that’s shooting for you. I learnt from the experience and it also helped me understand some flaws in my technique. I worked on my gun swing and training under Brovold sir was more of boosting my mental strength. Training and practice with such shooters makes one believe in one’s ability. Talking with national coach Jitinder Beniwal has also helped me. The next quota places for the Tokyo Olympics will be on offer at the World Cup in Mexico next year and my aim will to maintain consistency in the trials and thereafter,” Angad said.
Father Gurpal, who tracks Angad’s progress via some videos sent to him, has only one concern. “All he thinks of is shooting. When he is not training, he reads books on shooting or watches shooting videos on his phone. Sometime, I have to tell him not to strain his eyes,” he said.