Anjum Moudgil, Manu Bhaker nominated for Indian sporting honours

Both Anjum Moudgil and Manu Bhaker have won quotas for the country for the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.

Ace Indian rifle shooter and former world no. 1, Anjum Moudgil has been recommended by the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award - the country's highest sporting honour.

The 26-year-old Chandigarh shooter was one of the first Indians to win an Olympic quota through a silver medal at the 2018 ISSF World Championships.

Plying her trade in the Women’s 50m Rifle 3 Positions and 10m Air Rifle events, 2019 saw Anjum Moudgil winning the title in 50m 3 Positions event at the 63rd National Shooting Championship and winning gold medals in 10m Air Rifle mixed team at the ISSF World Cup in Munich and Beijing last year

Apart from being a world no. 1 in the Women’s 50m 3 Positions rankings last year, Anjum Moudgil also sat second in the women's 10m Air Rifle rankings.

“It came as a really good surprise,” Anjum Moudgil told the Times of India after being nominated for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award, which carries a medallion, a certificate and a cash prize.

“My family and I feel proud and happy,” she added.

Apart from Anjum Moudgil, the national shooting federation has also recommended coach Jaspal Rana for the Dronacharya Award for the second consecutive time.

A four-time former Asian Games gold medallist, the 43-year-old pistol coach is credited for nurturing India’s shooting prodigies like Manu Bhaker, Saurabh Chaudhary, Anish Bhanwala and more.

Given to coaches for honouring their work of successfully training athletes, who put on outstanding performances at international events, the Dronacharya Award also carries a cash prize.

Manu Bhaker, Saurabh Chaudhary in for Arjuna Award

Apart from Anjum Moudgil, the NRAI has also recommended Saurabh Chaudhary, Abhishek Verma, Manu Bhaker and the promising Elavenil Valarivan for the Arjuna Award, given to recognise achievements in sport.

Turning heads since her Youth Olympics days, 18-year-old Manu Bhaker has been Indian shooting’s fastest-rising stars, with six ISSF World Cup gold medals already to her name amongst other gold feats.

Winning India’s seventh shooting Olympic quota through her 10m Air Pistol display at the ISSF Munich World Cup, the Haryana shooter remains one of India’s leading hopes at the Tokyo Olympics.

Her compatriots Saurabh Chaudhary and Abhishek Verma have also won Olympic quotas for the country.

While Saurabh Chaudhary broke the world record to win a gold medal at the ISSF New Delhi World Cup and secure the quota, Abhishek Verma did that by clinching the yellow metal at the ISSF Beijing World Cup.

Currently the world no. 1 in women’s 10m Air rifle ISSF rankings, Elavenil Valarivan has been grabbing headlines as well.

Mentored by Olympic bronze medallist Gagan Narang the 20-year-old has already won a gold medal at the ISSF World Cup Final last year.

All equally talented

With as many as 15 shooters already winning Olympic quotas for India at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics next year, the country will send one of its largest contingents to the Games.

Hence, it was only understandable when NRAI President Raninder Singh revealed he was spoilt for choice while recommending the names.

"Our shooters had an outstanding last season and it was a particularly difficult selection to make this time around,” he said in a statement.

"I believe all are equally talented and will certainly reap rich awards if they carry on the way they have," he added.

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