The World Cup Finals will be held together for rifle/pistol and shotgun for the first time, National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) president Raninder Singh announced at a press conference at the Dr. Karni Singh Range, Tughlakabad, on Sunday.

Addressing the media along with nine of the 10 Indian shooters who will compete in the World Cup Finals, Raninder expressed his happiness about being host to the cream of world shooting, which includes dozens of World and Olympic champions. Including the three mixed team events in pistol, rifle and trap, a fresh addition to the Olympic programme for Tokyo 2020, there will be 18 events in all.

As an invitation event, “the shooters only need to buy their tickets to come here. It is an event for the best shooters of the season,” Raninder said about the responsibilities of being host to about 160-odd shooters from 45 countries.

EUR 5000 for ‘Champion of Champions’

Unlike the regular World Cups, the medals will carry prize money in the year-end competition. The gold, silver and bronze medallists in each event will get CHF 1200, 800 and 500 (approx. EUR 1034, 689, and 431). Apart from that, the ‘Champion of Champions’, a mixed event for the best rifle and pistol shooters will offer the champion EUR 5000 each.

Pistol shooter Jitu Rai said the preparations had been good over the past few months and he was ready to shoot his best. Rai has won medals at all levels except the Olympics. He will be competing in air pistol, free pistol and the mixed air pistol event with Heena Sidhu, who had won the World Cup Final gold with a world record in 2013.

The other mixed team for the host would be in Deepak Kumar and Meghana Sajjanar in air rifle. Pooja Ghatkar in women’s air rifle, Amanpreet Singh in men’s free pistol, Ravi Kumar in men’s air rifle, will be the other Indians competing in the individual events. There will be a full-fledged Indian team in double trap, which has ceased to be an Olympic event.

World No.1 Ankur Mittal, who has been in brilliant form this season, Sangram Dahiya, and the youngest shooter in action, Shapath Bharadwaj, will attempt to corner the double-trap medals.

World C’ship the focus for Sidhu

Answering a question about the packed season next year and priorities for the World Championship that will offer Olympic quota places for Tokyo and the Asian Games, Heena Sidhu said the focus would be the World Championship and that she hoped to carry the momentum into the Asian Games.

Heena said the qualification procedure for the World Cup Finals was almost like the Olympics in terms of the atmosphere. Having won two gold medals with Rai in World Cup mixed team events so far, Heena hoped the latest method would remain as the standard format till the Tokyo Games. “Every time the format is different,” she exclaimed.

15-year-old Shapath Bharadwaj expressed eagerness to compete and said he was adequately prepared for the tourney. Bharadwaj’s excellent performances in his first year in the seniors circuit has already won him a lot of support, including training stints with the former world champion, Danielle Di Spignio of Italy.

Amanpreet Singh, who won the silver behind Jitu Rai in the World Cup earlier this season at the home range, said he was preparing well and that training with Jitu was an inspiration.