Manish Narwal makes record breaking his mission

Indian shooter targets junior and senior bests before Tokyo 2020

Narwal, on the left, at the Indonesia 2018 Asian Para Games Narwal (L) at the Indonesia 2018 Asian Para Games © • Asian Paralympic Committee

Promising Indian shooter Manish Narwal is on a mission as he begins his journey to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

The 17-year-old, who created a buzz with his sharp shooting skills just months after stepping onto the range three years ago, wants to have both senior and junior world records in his name by 2020.

“This is a challenge to myself to get all the world records—junior and senior qualification and finals—by 2020. Winning the gold at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics is also a dream. And I will give my 100 per cent to achieve that,” Narwal said on the sidelines of the recent Al Ain 2019 World Shooting Para Sport World Cup.

The young shooter narrowly missed out on a medal in Al Ain despite having pulled off a junior qualification world record when he shot 579 points in the P1 (Men’s 10m air pistol SH1) qualifying round. He eventually finished fourth in the finals. He was the silver medallist in the same event last year.

Narwal was obviously sad to miss the podium this time around but believes all the misses and mistakes are preparing him for glories in bigger competitions. The shooter has already secured a quota for Tokyo 2020 in France last year.

“I was disappointed, which is very normal. But I know I cannot sit with that, I have to correct my mistakes and keep going.

“Moreover, I am learning to cope with all these setbacks. It’s important to sometime forget the defeats and keep working towards bigger goals, like the World Championships and the Paralympics,” Narwal explained.

“I am trying to think more like a champion, not thinking too much about the narrow misses, trying to just learn from my mistakes, amending it and going out confidently.”

“I believe I didn’t control my emotions well. Also, I was [a] little nervous. I need to practice more. There are several World Cups in the coming months. I will try to be better,” he added.

Single focus on shooting

Narwal said he was not a bright student in school so wanted to pursue a sport.

“I tried several other sports like athletics, football, badminton but didn’t getting any good results. In January 2016, I started shooting and it clicked in first instance. I started winning medals quite early. I became confident that I can make a career in shooting,” said Narwal who admitted that his “life is all about shooting now starting at 5 in the morning”.

His younger brother is also part of the Indian shooting squad.

In his first senior Nationals, Narwal finished with two golds, before he picked up five gold medals and a record at the 2017 National Championships. He also won silver at both the 2017 Bangkok and 2017 Dubai World Cups.

Last year, he was unstoppable winning eight gold and one silver at the Senior Nationals. His impressive form not only helped him win three gold medals but take a Tokyo 2020 quota place for India in Chateauroux, France.

At the Asian Para Games 2018, he brought home India’s only gold from the shooting range. He had clinched the gold in P1 (10m men’s air pistol SH1) with a Games record, as well as a junior world record en route to taking the silver in the P4 (50m pistol mixed SH1) final.

“Last year was very good for me. There were some achievements. One of the reasons was I started training under our national coach Subhash Rana, which saw a lot of positive changes in my game. And this has given me the confidence that I can win a Paralympic medal.

“There has been improvement in my scores, technically I am sounder now. I have also been using a new pistol, made small changes in my technique. I am making the changes slowly, taking one step at a time to get the improvements.”

Improving all the time

Improvements started to show up in Narwal’s game after the Cheongju 2018 World Shooting Para Sport Championships, where he didn’t even qualify for the finals.

“My scores are improving since then. In Cheongju, I got 564 in the qualification and couldn’t even make the finals. I practiced a lot, and my scores have improved to 577…578 and now I am getting 579,” said the shooter who loves to watch football and inspirational movies in his free time.

“Usain Bolt and Lionel Messi are my favourite. I try not to miss their competitions, even the highlights on TV.”