BENGALURU: Being the last shooter to get a call-up to the India junior camp in 2017 to winning a gold at the senior World Cup – Divyansh Panwar has come a long way. On Friday, the Jaipur boy added another feather to his cap, bagging the men’s 10m air rifle silver at the ISSF World Cup in Beijing.
In his only second senior World Cup, Panwar also earned India a fourth Tokyo 2020 Olympics quota place in shooting. Anjum Moudgil, Apurvi Chandela and Saurabh Chaudhary were the ones to book quota places before him. This also means that India can field at least one mixed team air rifle pair as the women have already won two individual 10m air rifle quotas.
The 17-year-old, who won the mixed team gold with Moudgil on Thursday, looked set for another but fell agonisingly close, finishing with 249.0 – just 0.4 behind China’s Hui Zicheng. He had qualified for the final round in third place.
In the final, Panwar kept the more experienced shooters on their toes, firing consistently over 10.1 in the 24-shot round. His only blip on the day was a 9.5 in his 14th shot. A 10.9 under pressure in the 21st shot was the highlight.
Panwar’s coach in his junior days, former Olympian Deepali Deshpande felt it was his single-minded focus that worked for him. “He is a confident shooter and I expected him to do well. Teenagers like him are not afraid of the results. So they don’t carry the baggage of pressure. It worked for Divyansh. He kept his cool and never let the pressure get to him in the final,” said Deshpande, who is also India’s junior rifle coach, from Beijing.
Unlike Manu Bhaker, Chaudhary and Mehuli Ghosh, Panwar wasn’t among the brightest in the junior circuit.
In the Junior World Cup last year, he finished seventh. But he gained confidence by shooting down a silver in junior Asian Championships in November. After a disappointing debut in the senior World Cup in New Delhi, where he failed to qualify for the final, Panwar had struck gold at the Asian Championships last month.
Deshpande believes that it is now up to the coaches to ready Panwar for the 2020 Olympics. “I remember how Divyansh was when he joined the junior camp in 2017. We had to tell him everything 10 times. He was the last shooter to get into the squad. But he has gradually got a hang of things. In the last six months, he has improved a lot.
“Even during practice, he is consistent and that showed in the competitions. I think the mixed team gold gave him confidence. Now, our job will be to keep him focussed on his level of performance.”