India's shooting team taking right steps ahead of World Cup

A thoughtful selection rule is in place for the first World Cup this year, which allows all the Olympic quota winners to compete with shooters not in contention for the main team.

Manu Bhaker is among 15 shooters to have booked quota place for Tokyo Olympics.   -  AP Photo

A very thoughtful selection rule, which allows all the Olympic quota winning shooters to compete in the first World Cup of 2020, will ensure the participation of at least two shooters in rifle and pistol, who do not meet the regular stipulation of being within the top three in rank to make the main team.

Chinki Yadav who won the Olympic quota place with an impressive performance, shooting 588 in qualification in women’s 25-metre sports pistol, has slipped to the fourth spot in the event behind Asian Games gold medallist Rahi Sarnobat, Manu Bhaker and Annu Raj Singh.

Chinki’s case was weakened when she shot 567 in the National championship. She could not get rid of that score as her first trial score subsequently was 566. A shooter’s three best scores from the last four matches are taken for selection, and Chinki has not been able to wish away one bad score. She recovered to shoot 582 in the second and last trial, to hang on to hope for the season ahead.

Thus despite two merit points for winning the quota, Chinki could not get into the top three bracket, even though she is only 0.57 point away from Annu Raj. Rahi is sitting on top with 591.50 while Manu has built her average to 584.25.

The first World Cup is scheduled to be held in Delhi from March 15.

InterShoot c’ship: Hat trick of gold for Saurabh, Divyansh

In women’s air pistol, Manu and Yashaswini Singh Deswal who won the quota are on top, and are followed by Annu Raj Singh. Shri Nivetha and Shweta Singh are in the fourth and fifth spots, which could get them a chance to compete in the MQS section.

In women’s rifle 3-position, former World Champion Tejaswini Sawant, who won the Olympic quota, is in the fifth place in the averages, behind Anjum Moudgil, Gayathri Nithyanandam, Sunidhi Chauhan and Ayushi Podder. Of course, Tejaswini is having the same average as Ayushi, at 1162.25, despite the addition of two merit points to her final average score, for the Olympic quota.

Anjum, who won the first Olympic quota with a World Championship silver in air rifle in 2018, is herself in a spot in that event, by figuring in the third place despite an average of 632.40, which includes six merit points. Apurvi Chandela has managed to retain her No. 1 status with 634.40 which also includes 4.75 merit points. Elavenil Valarivan who rose to No.1 rank in the world by the end of 2019, is in the second spot with 633.46.

The three are followed by Shreya Agrawal (629.68) and Mehuli Ghosh (629.59) who may get to compete in the MQS section.

There is no such situation in the men’s section, even though Sanjeev Rajput has slipped to the third spot in 50-metre rifle 3-position, 0.25 point behind Olympian Chain Singh while the young Aishwary Pratap Singh Tomar is leading the averages, six points ahead, with 1173.50.

Tokyo 2020: VAR included in ISSF shooting rules

Swapnil Kusale and Niraj Kumar figure in the fourth and fifth spots.

In air rifle, Divyansh Singh Pannwar (634.50) and Deepak Kumar (631.36) lead the averages, ahead of Pankaj Kmar, Sandeep Singh and Aishwary Pratap Singh Tomar.

In air pistol, the Olympic quota winners, Abhishek Verma (589.13) and Saurabh Chaudhary (589.00) who won two gold medals each in the World Cups in the event last year, are miles ahead of Dharmendra Singh, Gaurav Rana and Omprakash Mitharval.

In the only pistol event in which India has not won an Olympic quota, Anish Bhanwala (583.75) leads the averages in rapid fire pistol. He is followed by Arpit Goel (581.38) while Vijayveer Sidhu and Gurpreet Singh are on par with 578.50, marginally ahead of Udhayveer Sidhu (578.19).

The wise selection policy has solved the problem temporarily for the Olympic quota winners, but the avenues may open after the first World Cup.