Winning a bronze medal in the star-studded 10m air rifle field at the Khelo India University Games (KIUG) 2022 Uttar Pradesh, a week before 2023 Suhl World Cup junior pistol/rifle and shotgun competition in Germany has certainly added to his confidence, says Pratham Bhadana.
Big names like Olympian Aishwarya Pratap Singh, Arjun Babuta and Hriday Hazarika were some of the top shooters in the eight-shooter final on Friday. The shooting competition is being held at Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range.
Pratham representing Meerut's Chaudhary Charan Singh University in Uttar Pradesh says competing at the third edition of the Khelo India University Games has given him good exposure before the global competition in Germany. "The 10m air rifle field was very competitive as some of the best shooters were in the fray. But I stayed calm to win the bronze medal," Pratham said in the post-match interaction at the Dr Karni Singh Shooting Ranges on Friday.
According to Pratham, competing and winning third place in the final of the 10m air rifle will be a big advantage ahead of the European tour. "For me Khelo India University Games has acted as a good preparation for next month's competition in Germany," he added. "The finals are always tricky and it was good that I could advance to the medal round and improve my skills," Pratham added.
Pratham scored 229.6 points in the 24-shot final, while in the qualification he finished sixth with a score of 628.4 (60 shots). The top eight shooters in the qualification are eligible to compete in the final.
The Meerut-based air rifle shooter has just six years of experience at the ranges. He started practising shooting in 2017 at a local shooting academy in Meerut, but a year later qualified for the junior national selection trials, which speaks volumes of his talent.
He attributes his progress to Olympian air rifle shooter Deepak Kumar.
Incidentally, Deepak is also Pratham's relative. Under Deepak's guidance, the young shooter has been making good progress. "Coaching tips from Deepak sir has helped me advance to the final of almost all the competitions that I have competed in since 2019," Pratham explained.
However, the big break came in 2020 when he won bronze in the junior national event. Two years later he also won a medal, a bronze at the senior level and cemented his place in the junior national team.
"I am happy that I have made good progress. My parents will not regret investing their money in shooting. I got my first air rifle worth Rs 2 lakh in 2018," Paratham added. (ANI)