As everyone counts down the days to the Commonwealth Games starting next week in Gold Coast, seasoned shooter Jitu Rai has put the setback of the Rio Olympics in 2016 behind him and is confident of a podium finish.
The 2018 Commonwealth Games will be held at Gold Coast City, in the southeast of the Australian state of Queensland from 4 – 15 April 2018.
The Nepal-born shooter said he has worked hard on his shortcomings and is aiming to win the gold medal in the upcoming CWG. Back in the 2016, the Summer Games turned out to be a flop show by the Indian shooters, with Jitu, a prime medal prospect failing to qualify for the men’s 50-metre pistol, as well as the 10m air pistol event with an eighth-place finish.
“All my dreams were shattered at Rio, but I have worked hard to put those behind me now. The preparations have really been good, all the shooters are doing really well in the training camp for the CWG,” Jitu said.
He added, “I have worked on a few technical shortcomings that I believe will help me perform better in Australia. I have been working on my mental as well as physical strength and conditioning. The aim is definitely on winning the gold medal and I am confident of a podium finish at Gold Coast.”
Jitu, who was a 50m pistol gold medallist at the 2014 Glasgow CWG, talked about his shooting strategy too. “Every shooter has a different technique. Some will shoot after 15 seconds or some will shoot later. I have my own technique and rhythm is important for me,” the Indian Army marksman said.
Asked about recent media reports that suggested the sport might be dropped from the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, Jitu said, “Yes, it will be a huge loss to India because shooting is one sport which gives the country a lot of medals.”
The 30-year-old, however, preferred to be optimistic, saying that shooting will not be dropped permanently and may return for the next edition. It is to be noted that shooting continues to remain in the optional category.
“But it is not that shooting will be dropped forever or continuously. It is the choice of the organisers of a particular CWG as it is an optional sport. It (shooting) may return in another Commonwealth Games, it all depends on the host country,” he added.
But would the sportsperson, just as former shooter Jaspal Rana had done, support a complete boycott by India of the 2022 CWG? Jitu said, “I feel that it is not advisable to boycott a particular Games by India on the ground that shooting is not there.”
If shooting is axed from the Games roster, it would come as a massive blow to India, which has done quite well in the sport. India is second in the CWG’s all-time medal list for shooting, having 118 medals so far – 56 of them gold.