Maheshwari Chauhan seals Olympic quota No.21 in shooting for India with a silver medal in Doha

Maheshwari Chauhan in action

Cherubic lass Maheshwari Chauhan sealed the 21st quota place for India in shooting by winning a silver medal at the ISSF high pressure event in Doha on Sunday. In the high stakes and high-pressure final, where the Indian was in ice cool mode, it all boiled down to a shoot-off with Francisca Chadid.

“I am happy and thrilled,” said Maheshwari after the final. Indeed, someone less heard of till this week, Maheshwari could smile after she won silver. It sufficed on all accounts, a medal plus a quota for India.

Shotgun events in India have not been a strength, traditionally, for women. But then, their power has come to the fore, across disciplines. In the qualification phase, Maheshwari, an alumnus of Lady Shri Ram College, New Delhi, was pushing hard over two days.

The big deal was to ensure she could find her focus and go through the motions without getting bogged down by stage fright. Her calm demenaour was to be seen on ISSF live, as Maheshwari walked from one shooting station to the other. Measured steps, gun on her shoulder, she must have been thinking how to seal the quota.

What stood out was her inner calm, for the dark eye shades she was sporting to cut the glare did not let fans watch her expressions. To get whole hog in this big event, almost nerve wracking competition, was not easy. There were seasoned pros out there.

But then, Maheshwari had embraced pressure so smartly. Her technique stood out. For those not initiated into skeet shooting, shooting at clay birds with speed, accuracy and control is a combination. Here, the shooter cannot mount the gun on shoulder, like in trap.

So, the moment the shooter ‘calls” for the target, the brain swings into action. The arms goes up slightly, gentle squeeze of the trigger. If the orange clay bird breaks, its relief. If it does not, its sorrow. That Maheshwari kept pushing Francisca was great viewing. You would find such stuff in wild west movies. In Doha, there was no killing the bad guy, just clay birds for joy and winning a quota place for the country at the Olympics.

Maheshwari, from Jalore, Rajasthan, is 27 years of age, light at 46kg, quite unlike the male shooters in shotgun. She has honed her skills with finesse, under Amardeep Rai and at one point of time, Ennio Falco.

Indeed, this is a record number of quota places won and Indian shooters have raised hopes of medals in Paris 2024