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Shooter Arjun Singh Cheema aims for Paris berth after bagging gold in Khelo India University Games

IANS | February 27, 2024 01:07 PM

GUWAHATI: Following a methodical performance at the ongoing Khelo India University Games 2023 Ashtalakshmi that helped Arjun Singh Cheema secure a gold medal in the 10m Air Pistol, the 22-year-old rifle shooter has set his target on bagging a berth for Paris Olympics in July-August this year.

Currently third in the pecking order to represent India in the 10m Air Pistol, behind Sarabjot Singh and Varun Tomar, Cheema is vying to capitalise on the momentum gained here in Guwahati to make the cut.

Having featured in the Indian shooting team that won the 10m air pistol team gold at the Hangzhou Asian Games last year, Arjun Singh Cheema expressed his determination. "My goal for this year has been the Paris Olympics and this victory at the Khelo India University Games gives me confidence ahead of the selections. Now my focus is on making the qualifying mark, " said Cheema, who represented Lovely Professional University.

Interestingly, Cheema finished fourth in the 10m Air Pistol in the previous edition of the Khelo India University Games held in Uttar Pradesh. However at the Kahilpara Shooting Range on Sunday, Cheema showed a marked improvement, displaying his resolve to top the field of shooters. Despite a seventh-place finish in the qualification rounds, Cheema showcased great mental aptitude to lead the finals from the first round and registered a total score of 242.5 to bag the top honours.

With Guru Nanak Dev University’s Amit in close pursuit and only a two-point difference between the shooters before the final round, Cheema said, “It was a good competition and got tight towards the end. There are a million thoughts that come into your mind, but it is about staying calm and steady.”

The Asian Games gold medallist attributed the uptick in this performance, particularly since his Asian Games success, to a combination of factors.

"The previous edition of KIUG was a very good experience for me, and there has been a lot of learning since then. Mentally I am more focused, determined and I have come to realise that the sport is not just result-oriented but one must also be consistent with the approach and there has to be constant learning."

Cheema further emphasised on the support system he has which has helped him elevate his performance. "It is all about teamwork, it is not just me who is working hard, but also the support of my parents, friends, my sports psychologist, and the support from the government, " he said.

Cheema has also been part of the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) for a little over a year now and is grateful for the support. “Whatever an athlete requires whether it is shooting equipment, support to compete internationally, or any kind of training you need, the government supports you from A to Z. It no longer a burden only on the parents and I think this is the biggest positive of participating in events like Khelo India Games as we get the platform to be recognised for government support, " he signed off.

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