Jitu Rai, Heena Sidhu to shoot the host into good start

Having won two mixed gold medals in two World Cups, Jitu and Heena do understand what it takes to deliver the medals, but a changed format may help them intensify their focus a lot better.

India's Heena Sidhu and Jitu Rai display their medals after winning the mixed team 10m Air Pistol event of the ISSF World Cup in New Delhi on Monday.   -  PTI

 

Host India will look up to two of its best pistol shooters, Jitu Rai and Heena Sidhu, to give a medal start in the World Cup Finals shooting competition which begins at the Dr. Karni Singh Shooting Range at Tughlakabad on Tuesday.

Having won two mixed gold medals in two World Cups, Jitu and Heena do understand what it takes to deliver the medals, but a changed format may help them intensify their focus a lot better.

READ:  World Cup Final to be held under new format

With the opening day featuring all the three mixed team events in pistol, rifle and trap, there should be a lot of excitement, especially with the host having its stake in the pistol and rifle events. Deepak Kumar and Meghana Sajjanar will compete in the mixed air rifle event.

The new format for mixed team competition will feature 40 shots by each shooter in the qualification phase. Quite notably, the two shooters of a country, placed in adjacent lanes, will have to strictly follow the procedure of the left shooter firing first all through the competition till the gold medal is decided. Any error will result in a two-point deduction.

The top five teams after the qualification phase, based on their total, will qualify for the final. The final will feature three series of five shots, followed by two single shots. After 17 shots, the fifth placed team will be eliminated, and after 19 shots the fourth placed team will be out. After two more shots the bronze medallist will be identified. The gold medal will be decided over three shots between the remaining two teams. Any tie-break will lead to a shoot-off.

While the rifle event will have decimal scores from the qualification phase, the pistol event will have decimal scoring only in the final stage.

It may be recalled that Jitu Rai had won the silver medal in free pistol in the World Cup Final last year in Bologna. He had won the air pistol bronze and free pistol gold at the same venue when the World Cup season started here in February.

While 60 World Cup medals including 15 gold have been won by 27 shooters in all for India in the last 20 years, only eight have managed to win the medals in World Cup Finals. The list starts with Anjali Hagwat, followed by Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, the Olympic silver medallist who is currently the Union Minister of Sports. Gagan Narang, Ronjan Sodhi, Heena Sidhu, Apurvi Chandela, Mohd. Asab and Jitu Rai have been the others.

Out of the 11 medals, five have been in double trap, thanks mainly to the two gold and a silver by Ronjan Sodhi, a dominant force in world shooting at one stage.

Of course, Ankur Mittal has been on top form in double trap this season, with a World Championship silver apart from the gold and silver in World Cups.

With the Indian shooters gearing up for the Commonwealth Shooting Championship in Gold Coast, Australia, starting on October 28, the World Cup Final will offer a nice warm up for some of them.

There may only be 10 Indian shooters out of 162, who have assembled from 45 countries, but each one of them would attempt to make a strong statement.