ISSF World Cup: Indian shooters eye more Olympic quota places

Focus on Manu Bhaker, who is No.1 in both air pistol and the 25-metre sports pistol events.

Manu Bhaker will be the one to watch, as the 12th standard student is the No.1 in both air pistol and the 25-metre sports pistol.   -  AP

A 28-member Indian team will aim to add to the three Olympic quota places won so far, in the World Cup starting in Beijing on Tuesday.

The young Saurabh Chaudhary -- the Asian Games air pistol champion, Youth Olympics champion and the World Junior champion -- was the only one to win the Olympic quota in the World Cup at home in February.

Anjum Moudgil and Apurvi Chandela had won the quota in women’s air rifle in the World Championship last year.

The opening day’s competition will feature women’s air rifle, which would only add to the competitive exposure for Anjum, Apurvi, Elavenil Valarivan, and the MQS shooter Mehuli Ghosh, as a country cannot win more than two Olympic quota in any event.

READ: Olympic quotas reallocated to World Cups in Beijing, Munich

The focus from the Indian perspective will thus be on Wednesday, when there will be women’s air pistol and men’s 50-metre rifle 3-position finals.

Manu Bhaker will be the one to watch, as the 12th standard student is No.1 in both air pistol and the 25-metre sports pistol. With two-time Olympian and former World record holder Heena Sidhu, apart from Yashaswini Deswal in the line up, India has a realistic chance of striking it hot in women’s air pistol.

Olympians Sanjeev Rajput and Chain Singh apart from Parul Kumar will attempt to make the rifle 3-position event memorable.

The mixed air rifle and air pistol finals will be held on Thursday, giving a chance for the Indian shooters to be better prepared for the new Olympic event, even though there will be no Olympic quota available.

Ravi Kumar, Deepak Kumar and Divyansh Singh Panwar will be in line to win the Olympic quota place in men’s air rifle, on Friday.

Commonwealth Games gold medallist Anish Bhanwala, along with Arpit Goel and Adarsh Singh will fight for the quota places in rapid fire.   -  Kamesh Srinivasan

 

More significantly, the 25-metre rapid fire pistol shooters will have a better chance for Olympic quota as three will be on offer, unlike two in all other events.

It may be recalled that the rapid fire pistol quota places were withheld in the Delhi World Cup, as visa for two Pakistani rapid fire pistol shooters had been denied. Those two quota places will be given one each additionally in the Beijing and Munich World Cups.

Commonwealth Games gold medallist Anish Bhanwala, along with Arpit Goel and Adarsh Singh will fight for the quota places in rapid fire.

In men’s air pistol, in which Saurabh Chaudhary will be fielded in the MQS event to enhance the chances of a second Indian winning the Olympic quota, the onus will be on World Cup gold medallist Shahzar Rizvi, Asian Games bronze medallist Abhishek Verma and World Junior champion Arjun Singh Cheema to capitalise on the opportunity.

The World Cup will close with the finals in women’s 25-metre sports pistol and the 50-metre rifle 3-position events on Sunday. Asian Games gold medallist Rahi Sarnobat, apart from Manu Bhaker and Chinki Yadav will be competing in the pistol event.

Gaayathri Nithyanandam, Sunidhi Chauhan and Kajal Saini will try to prove that it is a fair decision to field the World record holder Anjum Moudgil in the MQS section in the event, so as to help the team strike further Olympic quota.

The presence of a battery of coaches, Samaresh Jung, Ved Prakash, Pavel Smirnov, Randhir Singh, Manoj Kumar, Oleg Mikhailov, Deepali Deshpande, Jaspal Rana and Suma Shirur would mean that it will be difficult to blame the absence of coaches for unsatisfactory performance!