While India was happy topping all the four World Cups in rifle and pistol this season in Delhi, Beijing, Munich and Rio, power house China was quietly collecting 25 Olympic quota places for Tokyo 2020.
Interestingly, world leader China’s supremacy, as compared to nine Olympic quota won by India so far, should favour the Indian shooters when they make a final attempt for the Olympic berths in the Asian Championship in Doha, Qatar, in November.
With China virtually out of the race in most of the events, having won maximum possible two quota in each event, and Korea with 12 quota so far, India will have bright chances to pick up the remaining seven Olympic quota that it is eligible to win in the rifle and pistol events.
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India has won maximum possible two Olympic quota in women’s air rifle, men’s air pistol and women’s air pistol. Thus, it should not matter much as to who shoots in these events in the Asian championship.
Of course, the Olympic quota winners Saurabh Chaudhary and Abhishek Verma in men’s air pistol, Anjum Moudgil and Apurvi Chandela in women’s air rifle and Yashaswini Singh Deswal and Manu Bhaker in women’s air pistol, top the averages.
Following the last set of selection trials, Sharvan Kumar has risen to the third spot in men’s air pistol, Elavenil stays World No.3 and the Indian No.3 ahead of Mehuli Ghosh in women’s air rifle. It is a tussle between Olympian Annu Raj Singh and the 14-year-old Esha Singh for the third spot in women’s air pistol, as the two are tied with an average of 577.67.
Two-time Olympian Heena Sidhu has slipped to the 16th spot with an average of 568.33 in air pistol.
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The fact that Annu Raj figures third in women’s sports pistol, behind quota winners Rahi Sarnobat and Manu Bhaker, should see her make the cut in that event, along with Chinki Yadav and Neeraj Kaur.
For, there are four Olympic quotas on offer in sports pistol in Doha, and India needs to add to the one won by Rahi. Equally, India will aspire to win one or two Olympic quota from the four available in the men’s 25-metre rapid fire pistol.
Anish Bhanwala, Bhavesh Shaktawat, Adarsh Singh figure among the top three in averages ahead of Vijayveer Sidhu and Olympian Gurpreet Singh.
Deepak Kumar who missed the Olympic quota in the Rio World Cup tops the averages in men’s air rifle. With Divyansh Singh Panwar having already won a quota, Yash Vardhan and Kiran Jadhav are likely to make the team, along with Deepak, in pursuit of the Olypic quota. The experienced Ravi Kumar and the aspiring Sandeep Singh may miss their chances by agonising margins of 0.07 and 0.08 respectively.
In men’s rifle 3-positiion event, Sanjeev Rajput has won the Olympic quota, and three more are on offer in Doha. Parul Kumar, Olympian Chain Singh and the young Aishwarya Pratap Singh Tomar are likely to make the team on the basis of the averages.
Wherever India has won maximum possible two Olympic quota, the best possible team will be fielded in pursuit of the medals, while the focus will be on the Olympic quota in the rest of the events.
In women’s rifle 3-position event, in which Anjum tops the averages, the team is likely to be former World champion Tejaswini Sawant, Gaayathri Nithyanandam and Kajal Saini.
World Cup medallist Lajja Gauswami and, Sunidhi Chauhan who had shot 1175 in the Munich World Cup may only figure in the MQS section.
There is no confusion in the shotgun events of trap and skeet in both the men’s and women’s sections, as India has not won a single Olympic quota so far in these events.