Indian shooting will have a great opportunity to project its bright image, with assured high-quality live television coverage of the World Cup in rifle and pistol to be staged at the Dr. Karni Singh Range, Tughlakabad, from February 21.
Even though shooters from around the world will be eyeing the 16 Olympic quota places on offer, in eight events for men and women, for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, it will be an ideal platform for the Indian shooters to show case their class and strike power.
"Sony will be covering the World Cup. Doordarshan will also broadcast. Since the World Cup is an ISSF event, the world body has signed the deal with Sony Television not only for this World Cup but other World Cups as well," said the president of the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI), Raninder Singh, who addressed the media along with many shooters on Friday.
The first final, women’s air rifle is scheduled for 2.15pm on February 23. India has already won the maximum possible two Olympic quota places in this event through Anjum Moudgil and Apurvi Chandela in the last World Championships.
"It is hard to predict. We are capable of winning two to four Olympic quota places here," said Singh.
The chairman of the Athletes Commission, an ace shotgun marksman in the past, Moraad Ali Khan, who won the double trap gold for India with Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore at the 2002 Commonwealth Games, said Indian shooters had a good chance for the remaining 14 quota places.
"The sport is very dynamic. Everything would depend on the day’s performance as the margins are in decimal places most of the time," Khan said.
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India had conducted the Asian Olympic qualifying event before the Rio Olympics, but one of the Indian shooters, Sanjeev Rajput, who had won the quota then could not retain the berth.
"I have total faith in the national federation," said Olympian Rajput, as he expressed confidence that only the best shooters would be selected eventually to represent the country in the Olympics.
As per the rules, the quota places belong to the country and not to the shooters who win them.
Saurabh Chaudhary, the Asian Games gold medallist in 10m air pistol, was equally confident that he would be able to put up a good fare, and continue from where he had left year, a dream year in which everything he touched turned into gold.
The 16-year-old won the Youth Olympics gold as well in October, and his pistol has been put up on display in the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland.
The NRAI president said that a lot of national shooting associations will be coming with their presidents to watch the World Cup, including the ones from Gautemala, Mexico and Russia.
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Singh said the range was getting ready to host the World Cup, especially with a nice setting in the final hall.
"We are not taking any funds from the government for organising the event, and the ISSF is taking care of the production cost of the television coverage," he said.
The NRAI president also expressed hope that in the long run, the national championships would have television coverage. He said there was considerable potential to take the sport forward as 7,000 athletes competed in the last national championships.