CHENNAI: Trap shooter Kynan Chenai had followed the script until the qualification stage.
Seeking the first Tokyo Olympics quota for India in the shotgun section, it seemed like he would break the duck after he powered into the six-man final as the second-best shooter at the ongoing Asian Shooting Championship.
Three shooters from Kuwait had made the final. One had already made the Games cut before this event. Since the top-three get a berth, only one of the other two Kuwaitis — each nation gets only two per category — would walk away from Doha with the cut. All Kynan had to do was outscore one of the two non-Kuwait rivals.
But what transpired was a disaster. Kynan could not find his range and finished last. His narrow miss means that India won’t have a representative in the event at the Olympics for the first time since 1996.
Chief shotgun coach Mansher Singh, who had featured in the 1996 Olympics, rued the misses, and said that Kynan’s shooting in the final might have been affected because of delay. “The women’s final was delayed, and the men’s final started at 3.45pm local time. The light fades quite rapidly here. Since Kynan uses power lenses, he was at a disadvantage. It was a bad break. He could never get going.”
Shreyasi Singh, who competes in women’s trap event, was another who suffered a narrow miss. She lost in the shoot-offs (for sixth and last spot in the final) after being tied with four rivals in the qualifiers. “It was very unfortunate. Four out of six could have qualified,” Mansher said.
These “unfortunate” results follow a series of disappointing shows since the start of 2019. Kynan had come close twice. But apart from him, no one had threatened to win a quota. Veteran Manavjit Singh Sandhu, who finished ninth on Wednesday, deemed this as an eye-opener. “It’s the end of an era. Trap has been long considered as the benchmark for shotgun in India. A thorough analysis needs to be carried out.”
Unlike the pistol and rifle sections, shotgun lacks bench-strength; a fact on display during national events. Mansher acknowledged that India needs a fresh crop to push the seniors. “We need a proper system, need to keep working hard and target the next Olympics.”
One factor that has stifled trap shooters is lack of a foreign coach. Since Marcello Dradi left, India are yet to find his replacement. “We have been looking for a foreign coach. But since this is a key phase in the Olympic cycle, it’s difficult to find a proven coach. Indian coaches need to step up.”