India can take a strong step forward toward the Paris Olympics if its shooters live up to their potential in the World Championship in Baku, Azerbaijan.
India has the biggest contingent of 53 shooters, among the 101 countries that registered to compete in the championship.
The government will be spending about 1.5 crore rupees on only 34 shooters competing in the 15 Olympic events while the rest are making their own arrangements.
The government would also be pretty pleased that 31 of the 34 shooters are covered either by the TOPS or Khelo India scheme, suggesting sound preparation and planning.
The World Championship will offer 48 Olympic quota places, four each in the 12 individual events of rifle, pistol and shotgun.
India has won three Olympic quota places so far for Paris through Rudrankksh Patil (air rifle), Swapnil Kusale (rifle 3-position) and Bhowneesh Mendiratta (trap).
It is a young team, hungry to excel, with only Divyansh Singh Panwar, Aishwary Pratap Singh Tomar, Manu Bhaker, Angad Vir Singh Bajwa and Kynan Chenai having been to the Olympics.
The rifle and pistol shooters recently got a taste of the Paris venue with a week-long training camp. The shotgun shooters had an 11-day training camp in Italy.
The country’s leading shooters had recently asserted their prowess in the recent World University Games, topping the medals table in shooting convincingly.
In Baku, after India, the USA has the highest number of 40 shooters. Powerhouse China has 36 shooters in its bid to top the medals table.
World Championship silver medallist, Olympian Anjum Moudgil misses the event as she was overtaken in the national ranking list following the trials. And World Champion Rudrankksh does not get to compete, giving others a chance to win the second Olympic quota in men’s air rifle.
India will aim for medals, but more than that, the focus would be on the number of Olympic quota places that Indian shooters can collect from the World Championship.
The Asian Championship will offer one more chance with 24 quota places on offer, but it is time for the shooters to assert their class in the World Championship.
Even though the opening ceremony is scheduled for Tuesday, the competition will start with air pistol and skeet events on Thursday.
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