Student shooter Anish Bhanwala targets gold at Asian Games

Anish Bhanwala is already considered something of a golden boy in the Indian contingent for the Asian Games.

At 15 and still at high school, he was India's youngest gold medalist at the Commonwealth Games on Australia's Gold Coast in April when he won the 25-meter rapid fire pistol shooting event in a meet record.

He had to tone down the celebrations to study for exams, but he's back on target in competition now as part of India's 524-strong delegation for the Aug. 18-Sept. 2 Asiad in the Indonesian cities of Jakarta and Palembang.

Anish already has won a number of other international titles, including the ISSF Junior World Championship and the Commonwealth Shooting Championship last year and the ISSF Junior World Cup this year.

Anish comes from a middle-class family which didn't have any background in the sport, but took an interest in shooting after starting to train for the multi-discipline modern pentathlon. His father bought him a second-hand pistol and his career took off from there. The youngster moved in 2014 from Haryana to settle in Delhi, where he has the best facilities for practice.

While Anish and another rising star, Manu Bhaker made the squad in pistol events, there were contentious selections with former World No. 1 Heena Sidhu missing some events, and 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Gagan Narang missing out on the squad entirely.

India expects to pick up medals in the shooting, and is hoping for gold in field hockey, one of its traditionally powerful sports.

Skipper Rani Rampal is hoping her women's hockey team can pick its first major games gold medal since the 2002 Commonwealth Games.

Rani, who became the youngest to play for a senior India team when she made her debut at 13 in 2008, was inspired to play the game after watching the Bollywood movie Chak de India — made in 2007 and based on India's gold medal in Manchester.

Since then, she has played an important role in India's team, including its run to qualifying for Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016, ending a 36-year absence.

The Indian women went close to a medal at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast but lost to Australia in the semifinals and were edged by England in the bronze playoff.

"Since the time I made it to the Indian team, I wanted to replicate the 2002 Commonwealth Games performance," Rani has said recently. "I know winning gold in the Asian Games will not be an easy task ... top podium finish in Indonesia will give us a direct entry to 2020 Tokyo Olympics and it will be a help for us to prepare better for the Olympics."