Arriving with its biggest-ever squad, India will field a shooter in each of the 10 Olympic events in the international shooting federation’s season-ending Word Cup Final, beginning in Putian, China on Tuesday.
The prestigious tournament determines the season’s best shooters across events, and India is fielding a 14-member squad for as many as 19 starts.
The Indian team has landed in the Chinese city and the athletes are confident of extending their impressive run when they compete in the International Shooting Sport Federation’s annual showpiece for rifle and pistol shooters.
The world’s top-ranked shooters in each discipline are entitled to participate in the tournament, whose shotgun equivalent was held in Al Ain, UAE, in October.
The first of the 10 finals are scheduled for Tuesday.
Speaking before the tournament, national coach Jaspal Rana sounded confident, saying, “All members of the squad are fit and raring to go.”
Sanjeev Rajput and Akhil Sheoran in the men’s 50m rifle 3 positions and Anjum Moudgil in the corresponding women’s event will be the first Indians to have a crack at the medals on Tuesday.
India at ISSF World Cup stages in 2019
|3||United States (USA)||5||4||1||10|
|10||Czech Republic (CZE)||2||0||1||3|
An unprecedented four Indian shooters will be part of the women’s 10m air rifle competition, the discipline in which India won the first two of its 15 Olympic quotas, at the World Championships in Changwon, South Korea last year.
Anjum Moudgil had won silver and Apurvi Chandela had finished fourth then.
While world No. 1 Chandela already has a WCF silver medal to her name, this would be Moudgil’s first World Cup Final. Anjum, in fact, has qualified to compete in both the women’s 10m air rifle and 50m rifle 3 positions events.
Sharing her thoughts before leaving for tournament, Moudgil said, “I am really excited to be part of the main 3P team again and looking forward to doing well in my first world cup final.”
Also excited was another ISSF WCF debutant Mehuli Ghosh, who has made the cut in the women’s 10m air rifle event, which will also have Elavenil Valarivan.
Ghosh said, “After a long time I have got this opportunity to be part of the main team and I am looking forward to doing well. The world’s best shooters will be there in this competition and it gives me further impetus to finish the year on a high.”
This year the world cup final entails, besides the title defender and the ISSF World Championships 2018 medalists, the top 14-ranked shooters in each of the eight individual Olympic disciplines, taking the number of athletes in each event to 18.
All qualified athletes in the individual events will also be able to take part in the mixed team air rifle and pistol events and then challenge for the President’s Trophy.
Indian medal winners at ISSF World Cup Finals
|1||Anjali Bhagwat||2002||MUNICH||AIR RIFLE WOMEN||SILVER|
|2||Anjali Bhagwat||2003||MILAN||AIR RIFLE WOMEN||GOLD|
|3||Rajyavardhan Rathore||2006||GRANADA||DOUBLE TRAP MEN||BRONZE|
|4||Gagan Narang||2008||BANGKOK||AIR RIFLE MEN||GOLD|
|5||Ronjan Sodhi||2010||IZMIR||DOUBLE TRAP MEN||GOLD|
|6||Ronjan Sodhi||2011||AL AIN||DOUBLE TRAP MEN||GOLD|
|7||Ronjan Sodhi||2012||MARIBOR||DOUBLE TRAP MEN||SILVER|
|8||Heena Sidhu||2013||MUNICH||AIR PISTOL WOMEN||GOLD|
|9||Apurvi Chandela||2015||MUNICH||AIR RIFLE WOMEN||(GERMANY)|
|10||Jitu Rai||2016||BOLOGNA||10M AIR PISTOL MEN||(ITALY)|
|11||Jitu Rai/Heena Sidhu||2017||NEW DELHI||10M AIR PISTOL MIXED||Gold|
|12||Amanpreet Singh||2017||NEW DELHI||50M PISTOL MEN||Bronze|
|13||Sangram Dahiya||2017||NEW DELHI||DOUBLE TRAP MEN||Silver|
The 2019 season has been nothing short of sensational for Indian shooting. In an unprecedented show of dominance across these two mainstream Olympic disciplines, India have not only topped the medal standings of all the four ISSF World Cup rifle/pistol stages this year, but have also collected a whopping 22 medals that included an awe-inspiring 16 gold medals.
India’s contingent at ISSF World Cup Final 2019:
10m air rifle (men): Divyansh Singh Panwar
50m rifle 3-positions (men): Akhil Sheoran, Sanjeev Rajput
10m air pistol (men): Saurabh Chaudhary, Abhishek Verma
25m rapid fire pistol (men): Anish Bhanwala
10m air rifle (women): Anjum Moudgil, Apurvi Chandela, Elavenil Valarivan, Mehuli Ghosh
50m rifle 3-positions (women): Anjum Moudgil
10m air pistol (women): Yashaswini Singh Deswal, Manu Bhaker
25m pistol (women): Rahi Sarnobat, Manu Bhaker
Indian shooters have also earned a record 15 Olympic quota spots for Tokyo 2020 next summer. This officially marks the beginning of the road to Tokyo 2020 for the medal aspirants at the Olympics, where hopes will be high.
(With PTI inputs)