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CWG Shooting: Champion shooters pull crowds to the range

By Abhishek Roy, IANS,

New Delhi : Indian shooters are drawing huge crowds at the Karni Singh Range to watch stars Olympic champion Abhinav Bindra, World no.3 Gagan Narang, among others, find the bull’s eye with incredible regularity.

It was unusual to see the stands overflowing with spectators at the range Wednesday afternoon as shooting is not considered a spectator sport. But the Indian shooters have done enough in the past couple of years to popularise the sport.

Some 750 spectators turned out at the range which is located at Tughlakabad, bordering Delhi and they left happy seeing India win three gold and three silver medals to take their tally to five gold and five silver medals.

The lucky ones who made it to the range very early in the morning, saw Narang shoot a perfect 600 in the qualifying round and 103.6 in the final to beat Bindra to the gold.

The shooters themselves were surprised to see a huge crowd, which otherwise is a distraction to them.

“When we shoot we don’t want anybody around. We hate people watching us. But today it was a great feeling. I have never witnessed such scenes in my life in India. Today it was as if the whole world was staring at us,” said an overwhelmed Bindra, who is India’s only individual Olympic champion.

“Since Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore’s silver medal at the Athens, the sport has gained in popularity and I hope the sports continues to get the patronage,” he said.

Narang, a double world record holder, said that it augurs well for the sport.

“If we look into the statistics then in terms of medals, shooting is the No.1 sport in the country. But in terms of popularity and spectator support we still have a long way to go,” said Narang.

National coach Sunny Thomas also gave credit to Bindra and Narang for making the sport popular.

“The credit goes to them. They have been winning gold medals at the highest level and now since they are shooting at home people want to come and see them,” he said.

Thomas proposed that India should have a system like the Bundesliga in Germany, where the spectators can shout to cheer their favourite shooter.