Khelo India Youth Games: Esha, Harsh add to growing list of shooting prodigies

With celebrated teenage shooter Manu Bhaker skipping the Khelo India Youth Games due to exams, all eyes are on Uttar Pradesh’s Saurabh Chaudhary in shooting competitions in Pune. However, two other names that are also grabbing eyeballs here are Telengana’s Esha Singh and Maharashtra’s Harshawardhan Yadav.

Though they are from two different parts of the country, they share a number of similarities. To start with, both have a sporting background – while Esha’s father, Sachin Singh, was a rally driver of national repute till 2017; Harshwardhan’s father, Mahanand Yadav, is a former wrestler.

Coming into the Pune event, both have defeated their higher-ranked opponents in national-level competitions. Esha pipped Manu and Olympian Heena Sidhu to clinch gold at the Nationals in Thiruvananthapuram while Harsh edged out experienced Gurpreet Singh in 25m rapid fire trials in Delhi.

Currently training under 2012 London Olympics bronze-medallist Gagan Narang, both Esha and Harshawardhan have set sights on winning medals at the Youth Olympics in 2022 and believe doing well in the Khelo India Youth Games will keep their preparations on track.

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“My target is to win a medal at the Youth Olympics. A win here will give me the confidence for future preparations,” said Esha, who will compete in 10m pistol and mixed team.

The 13-year-old, who regards Greece’s renowned shooter Anna Korakaki as her idol, played badminton and tennis during childhood before taking up shooting at age nine in Hyderabad.

After doing well at district and state-level tournaments, she was soon playing in national-level events but she never expected gold at the nationals. No wonder, she calls it her the proudest moment of her career.

“Beating Bhaker and Heena was surreal. It is the proudest moment of my career but I want to remain focused and keep doing well,” said the teenager who loves to sketch and take photographs in spare time.

Built like wrestler

While Esha has a mind of an artist, Harshawardhan has the physique of a wrestler. He took to shooting after watching his elder brother play the sport during childhood. Thankfully, he found an able coach in Ved Prakash and later an entry into Gagan Narang’s academy ensured he would train in the best of facilities.

The 14-year-old, who will be competing in 25m rapid fire pistol here, practices three hours a day and hopes to win an Olympic medal. While it will take them years to realise their dream, for now they can soak in the adulation coming their way from fans here.

Avinash, Dhanush shine

On the first day of shooting competition, Telengana and Madhya Pradesh shared a gold medal each. In men’s U-21 10m air rifle, Telengana’s Dhanush Srikanth emerged champion with 248.9 points with Yash Yogeshwar of Goa (247.6) and Arjun Babuta of Punjab (225.6) finishing second and third, respectively.

In men’s U-17 air rifle, Madhya Pradesh’s Avinash Yadav bagged the top honours with 250.9 points with Divyansh Singh Panwar of Rajasthan (250.7) and Yashvardhan (228.1) of Rajasthan taking home silver and bronze, respectively.

First Published: Jan 12, 2019 09:51 IST

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