New Delhi, Sep 26 (IANS) Junior world shooting champion Asher Noria has more than one reason to cheer. He came into the double trap team as a replacement for Athens Olympics silver medallist Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore but will also shoot alongside his mentor Ronjan Singh Sodhi in the Oct 3-14 Commonwealth Games here.
'It is a great feeling to compete in the Commonwealth Games. I participated at the youth Games at Pune in 2008, but this will be a different experience. It is a great feeling. I have put in lot of hardwork in the last three years,' Noria told IANS in an interview.
Noria, who came into the limelight by winning gold in the world championship in August in the junior category, knows that stepping into the shoes of Rathore, the defending Commonwealth Games champion, will not be easy.
'Obviously there is some pressure on me because the selection committee has chosen a junior in the senior team for the Commonwealth Games. But I see it the other way, pressure boosts my confidence and I am in a situation where I know that there are lot of expectations from me and I have to perform. So I would look to enjoy the pressure,' Noria said.
Noria took to shooting as a nine year old after a visit to the shooting ranges of the Hyderabad University during the Afro-Asian Games.
'My father was also a shooter and I was always interested in the shotgun. So, after the Afro-Asian Games I took a liking for the sport. I tried my hand in all the three shotgun events - skeet, trap and double trap. Finally I realised that double trap was meant for me,' said Noria, who was initially coached by his industrialist father Gusti Noria.
Since the 2002 Afro-Asian Games, the 17-year-old Hyderabad boy has come a long way.
Noria, a first year student of mechanical engineering at the Georgia Tech University in Atlanta, came up with a stunning performance in August, becoming the third Indian shooter after Jaspal Rana (1994) and Navnath Farthade (2006) to win a gold in the world championship in the junior category.
Noria feels that shooting alongside Sodhi in the Commonwealth Games will give him confidence.
'I have known Ronjan for the last four years and he has been my role model and mentor. I have learnt a lot from him. From minute details of holding a gun to shooting techniques and also how to approach an event, I have learnt everything from him. So shooting with him will be a great experience,' said Noria, who is being supported by Sahara India.
Noria is upbeat about India's chances in the double trap, where Rathore is the defending champion.
'India's shotgun shooters have done well in the last five years and Sodhi is in great form. Sodhi is among the top-five in the world. Hopefully we will not only retain the individual gold but win in the team event as well,' he said.