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Young marksmen strike gold

Kynan Chenai and Asher Noria are gunning for gold and winning them too. Sangeetha Devi Dundoo discovers that for the brothers, shooting is more than a sport

Cover Photo and below: K. Ramesh Babu

Golden moments Asher Noria after his win at the Commonwealth Youth Games and Kynan Chenai exhults after bagging the gold

Trap shooter Kynan Chenai was tied with Burgia Ryan of Malta at the Commonwealth Youth Games at a score of 110. “It’s not easy when you are in a tie. In my mind, I could hear my coach Mansher Singh’s words urging me to keep my cool and not miss my shots. I could hear his instructions over and over and that ensured I didn’t lose my rhythm,” Kynan recalls, showing off his gold medal. Number 111, shrouded with superstition, clinched the gold for Kynan at Pune. “At that moment, I knew I had to hit the target to shift the pressure on my competitor,” he explains. His brother and double trap gold medal winner Asher smiles brightly, listening in to the conversation.

The brothers are addicted to shooting and declare, “The adrenaline rush you get when you smash the target is unbeatable.” The city-based duo is enjoying a short break after the games at Pune before they head back to their respective schools.

“I started shooting some four years ago,” says Kynan, a statement that draws a chuckle from Asher: “Did you start four years ago? I started five years ago,” he says, smiling. A day after Kynan’s win, Asher ushered in the gold in the double trap category. Ranked fourth in the world among juniors, Asher brought back laurels after winning at the Singapore Open two months ago.

In dad’s footsteps

Kynan took to the sport following his dad Darius Chenai. Professional mentoring in the shot gun category ensued with the help of four-time Olympian Mansher Singh. Added to that, inputs came in from Manavjit Sandhu and Marcelo Dradi in Italy during special training sessions prior to the Olympics at Beijing.

“Italy was great,” smiles Kynan. “The training was intense and I got to shoot thrice more than what I used to in Hyderabad. We have a shooting range of international standards here but we are grappling with shortage of ammunitions and clay birds.” Asher agrees and quips, “The Hyderabad shooting range is great. We only lack a restaurant and club house facility.” Asher switches on to a serious note and adds, “The 10-metre rifle shooting has got a shot in the arm after Abhinav Bindra’s historical win. We have a number of coaches to train students in this category but very few for shot gun. Interestingly, I learnt that schools in North India are doing their bit to encourage shooting as a sport. At the Commonwealth Youth Games I met a standard VIII student who took to shooting seriously after this school encouraged him.”

Shooting comes naturally to Asher with his father Gusti Noria being a specialist in double trap and skeet. A student of Hyderabad Public School, Asher says, “Our training camp began 10 days prior to the games while the camp for rifle shooters began two months earlier.”

Kynan follows a carefully-planned schedule to balance school and sport. A student of Hebron School, Ooty, he gets to practice only when he visits Hyderabad. “It’s a lot tougher for me but I am addicted to the sport. My mom (Dinaz, earlier married to Darius Chenai) makes more decisions for me than my dad. If there is a tournament coming up, she steps in and tells me when I need to come to Hyderabad to train. There is no replacement for her.”

The game that involves hand-eye coordination, the boys say, is as much a mind game as it is a physical one. Asher explains, “As Gagan Narang says, physical fitness keeps your mental juices running. If I have to shoot 200 clay birds a day, a fitness regime ensures that I don’t get tired.” Team games, cardio routines and running around the KBR Park keeps the brothers fit.

Back to school

The young sportsmen are mini celebrities in their own right but back in school, they are one among the others. “Our schools are proud of our achievement. But we are not pampered,” says Asher. Managing studies, they admit, calls for effort. “We are good students. When we travel for tournaments we miss classes but make up for it.” Kynan adds, “My parents always tell me that I need to finish studies. As a sportsperson, you always need a back up.” Business administration interests Kynan and Asher has his options open. “I have taken Maths, Physics and Chemistry and can choose,” he says.

National-level Grand Prixs, Asian tournaments and the World Cup among several other international tournaments… the brothers have been there and worked up their way. And more tournaments will follow. The brothers hope for more medals and more precision.

On target


* Kynan began shooting inspired by his father Darius Chenai, a national-level trap shooter. In addition, he is coached by four-time Olympian Mansher Singh and trained Italy with Marcelo Dradi.

* Sixteen-year-old Asher took to the sport after his father Gusti Noria, former national skeet shooter and has double trap specialist Ranjan Sodhi as his mentor.

* Asher won the silver in the Asian Clay Shooting Championships, gold at the Singapore Open in the senior category and the Commonwealth Youth Games. He stood fourth ain the World Championships.

* Kynan won the gold in the junior’s men’s trap event in the 51st National Shooting Championships at Jaipur, 2008.

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