The stringent selection criteria of the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) has resulted in the golden goose being split, at least for this season.
Jitu Rai and Heena Sidhu, who had won three gold medals in the World Cups and World Cup Final last season, will not be competing as a pairing in the mixed events of the World Cups this year.
With Jitu Rai being pushed to the third place in the selection merit list, the honour of competing in the mixed events has been bestowed on Omprakash Mitharwal and Shazar Rizvi in air pistol.
In the first World Cup in Guadalajara, Mexico, in March, Omprakash will pair with Manu Bhaker and Shazar will partner Mahima Turhi Agarwal.
When Heena Sidhu competes in the second World Cup in Changwon in Korea, in April, she will pair with Omprakash while Manu Bhaker will partner Shazar Rizvi.
It will be the same partnership for the World Cups in Fort Benning, US, in May and Munich, Germany, in June.
There will be fresh set of selection trials and tabulation of scores for the second half of the season, which would lead to selection of teams for the Asian Games and World Championships scheduled to be staged in Indonesia and Korea in August-September.
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