ISSF Rifle/Pistol World Cup: Indian shooters eye more Olympic berths

With the shotgun team having drawn a blank so far in the World Cups, in terms of Olympic quota, the rifle and pistol shooters have done very well to gather seven quota so far, through Anjum Moudgil, Apurvi Chandela, Saurabh Chaudhary, Abhishek Verma, Divyansh Singh Panwar, Rahi Sarnobat and Manu Bhaker.

Apurvi Chandela, who has won gold medals in New Delhi and Munich World Cups, will look to add to her tally in Rio.   -  Kamesh Srinivasan

It will be an interesting challenge for the Indian team to add to its collection of seven Olympic quota places for Tokyo 2020, in the World Cup starting in Rio on Wednesday.

The Indian team has been preparing for the last World Cup of the season for about a fortnight in Rio itself, and thus should be well acclimatised to deal with the challenges and deliver the results.

It may be recalled that the Indian team did draw an uncharacteristic blank in the Rio Olympics in 2016, with the former World and Olympic champion Abhinav Bindra missing a medal in air rifle by 0.1 point.

A lot has changed in Indian shooting in the last three years. Quite notably the Indian rifle and pistol team had topped the medals table in the last three World Cups in Delhi, Beijing and Munich.

There will be hope on the young rapid fire pistol shooters Anish Bhanwala, Adarsh Singh and Anhad Jawanda to strike an Olympic quota.

The men’s air rifle shooters, Asian Games silver medallist Deepak Kumar, Yash Vardhan and Kiran Jadhav will be keen to add to the Olympic quota won by Divyansh Singh Panwar.

In the absence of two-time Olympian and former World record holder, Heena Sidhu, the onus will be on Olympian Annu Raj Singh and Asian Games medallist Shweta Singh, apart from Youth Olympics finalist Yashaswini Singh Deswal, to add to the Olympic quota won by Manu Bhaker in women’s air pistol.

It should not be a surprise if Apurvi Chandela adds another medal to her two individual women’s air rifle gold won this season, in Delhi and Munich.

There will be interest in the 50-metre rifle 3-position events in both the men’s and women’s sections, apart from the women’s 25-metre sports pistol.

With the shotgun team having drawn a blank so far in the World Cups, in terms of Olympic quota, the rifle and pistol shooters have done very well to gather seven quota so far, through Anjum Moudgil, Apurvi Chandela, Saurabh Chaudhary, Abhishek Verma, Divyansh Singh Panwar, Rahi Sarnobat and Manu Bhaker.

There is no reason why the strong Indian team cannot add to its collection before the last chance for Olympic qualification in the Asian Championship in Doha in November.