CHENNAI: Ankur Mittal’s stock has been on the up this term. With two hits in two outings, the shotgun specialist has been making a name for himself.
What is noteworthy is that the double trap shooter was an unknown quantity before the year. Even though he did pull off odd wins on the Asian circuit and was part of the Commownwealth Games team in 2014, bookmakers would never have banked on him to win back-to-back medals in the ISSF World Cups, in India and Mexico. “It feels good. It’s a proud moment for India and myself. I also managed to equal the world record,” he said.
On a stage alongside the cream of shooters, Ankur held his own to bag a silver in New Delhi and followed it up with a gold in Acapulco, just a few days ago. Such was the delight that a bunch of fans and the NRAI gave him a grand reception on his arrival in New Delhi on Saturday. “I was humbled by the gesture. This was the first time that I’ve received such a reception.”
But his awakening coincides with ISSF’s proposed changes. With the ISSF under pressure to make the sport relevant and keep itself in the Olympic programme, it had to make tweaks. Ankur’s event is one of those likely to be sacrificed. “Well, I’m still hopeful that they will consider the proposal. I’m eagerly waiting.”
An MBA student from Manav Rachna University, Faridabad, the 24-year-old has found it tough to manage time. “I had to drop a year (second year) during the Olympic qualification period. It is hard to balance but one has to make such tough choices.”
The youngster revealed that having a coach like Marcello Dradi by his side has made a remarkable difference. “He (Dradi) is a proven coach. He has helped shooters like Manavjit Singh Sandhu and Ronjan Sodhi. He has plenty of experience and it’s easy to communicate,” he said. “If we call him here, it’s more expensive. It’s better to go to Italy. The climate is also ideal given that we shoot in the open.”
Coming from a family actively into the sport has also helped him. His father Ashok Mittal is a former shooter while his elder brother Ajay Mittal is also proficient with the shotgun. “His confidence has risen. The recent wins are vital as he was keen on doing well in the World Championships,” Ajay remarked.