Shooting: Will Rahi get the nod for Olympic quota event?

While Heena Sidhu and Annu Raj Singh, who shot air pistol in the London Olympics, may focus on that event, World Cup gold medallist and London Games participant Rahi Sarnobat, definitely deserves to be considered for sports pistol to enhance the chances of more quota places for the country.

Rahi Sarnobat... in fine form.   -  Sandeep Saxena

The strong performance of Rahi Sarnobat and Anisa Sayyed, who finished with the gold and silver medals in the women’s sports pistol on Thursday, in the ongoing 59th National shooting championship, should make it a difficult exercise for the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) to name the squad for the Asian Olympic qualification competition to be staged at the Dr. Karni Singh Range, Tughlakabad, in January 2016.

Even though the technical committee which met on November 23, had recommended that the scores of the national championship should not be considered for selection of the team for the Olympic quota competition, there is a clear message that the attempt would be to “maximise the number of quotas”.

With India hosting the quota competition at enormous expenses, as it would offer free entry, stay and food during the event to all the participants, it would be prudent to get the maximum possible quota places.

In women’s sports pistol, Annu Raj Singh (569), Heena Sidhu (565) and Gauri Sheoran (563) had placed 20th, 22nd and 28th respectively in the Asian Championship in Kuwait which was originally the Olympic quota event as well, before the International Olympic Committee (IOC) revoked the status.

While Heena Sidhu and Annu Raj Singh, who shot air pistol in the London Olympics, may focus on that event, World Cup gold medallist and London Games participant Rahi Sarnobat, definitely deserves to be considered for sports pistol to enhance the chances of more quota places for the country.

Interestingly, the 25-year-old Rahi, who had finished seventh in the last Asian Games in Incheon, and Anisa are ranked only behind Annu Raj Singh in the overall averages for the season. The selectors had opted not to look at the criteria of “Minimum Travel Score” for the quota event, but had yet dropped the two from the Asian championship.

At a venue where they had won the gold and silver in the Commonwealth Games in 2010, and had switched positions on the podium in the last Commonwealth Games in Glasgow last year, Rahi and Anisa, definitely are the best bet to win the Olympic quota in sports pistol, in the overall perspective.

Meanwhile, the overwhelming entries in men’s air pistol kept the organisers occupied with the qualifying event for the third successive day in the National Championship.

With the final scheduled for Saturday, and prominent shooters like Jitu Rai and Prakash Nanjappa yet to shoot in the qualification, as they were busy winning medals in the 50-metre free pistol event, Rohit Kumar of the Central Industrial Force (CISF) led with a score of 581, ahead of Sib Kumar Ghosh (580), Omkar Singh (579), Amit Kumar Pilaniya (578), Olympic silver medallist Vijay Kumar (577) and junior Achal Pratap Singh Grewal (577), Deepak Sharma (577) and Om Prakash (577).

Former National champion Dharmendra Singh had shot 575 and so did Jitendra Vibhute who was part of the squad for the Asian championship, and Amanpreet Singh.

Achal Pratap Singh Grewal (577) was two points ahead of Arjun Das in the junior section, while Dhruv Pran Singh and Shainki Nagar led with 572 in the youth section.

The 25-metre and 50-metre ranges were busy with the shooters training for their events.