Starting Thursday, 29 April, it will be a high-octane clash of man and machine for the next 10 days at “TOPGUN”, indianshooting.com’s latest online competition. With various parts of the world again in lockdown mode because of a second wave of the pandemic, and tournaments drying up as a result, the event comes as a respite with the Tokyo Olympics less than three months away, should the Games take place.
Understandably, elite shooters have lapped up this chance to stay sharp in competition mode. There could not have been a better field in this eight-man competition with Olympic gold medallists, World Cup winners and World Cup Final medallists. Care has been taken to ensure there a balance is struck between youth and experience.
On one hand, there is Ginny Thrasher of USA, who at 24 is the reigning Olympic champion in Women’s 10m Air Rifle, which makes her one of the overwhelming favourites in this invite-only contest. On the other, Shiri Sternberg of Israel is the youngest in the field at 15 but is already an accomplished hand in online shooting competitions like the International Online Shooting Championships (IOSC) and the Online Shooting League (OSL) last year.
Given the quality of the field, every shooter can win on a given day, and that applies to Ginny’s teammate Lucas Kozeniesky, Serbia’s ISSF World Cup Final silver medallist Milenko Sebic, and the young Mireia Rosello of Spain, again an experienced online shooter despite being just 20.
When it comes to rifle shooting, the Austrian duo of Martin Strempfl and Bernhard Pickl are heavyweights with a proven track record over the years. Martin, an Olympic quota winner for his country, and Bernhard were in top form in OSL and IOSC, and Martin was also voted the Online Shooter of the Year in December last.
From an Indian perspective, Arjun Babuta will keen to make a mark after a strong show in last month’s ISSF World Cup in Delhi. Ranked World No. 13, Arjun has impressive credentials at 22 and is a name for the future. Arjun has three bronze in ISSF Junior World Cups and a junior silver in the Asian Championships
As per the competition schedule, there will be a 60 shots qualification match on the opening day which will decide who shoots against who in the four quarterfinals. The four winners of the quarterfinals will proceed to the semifinals and then the two winners of the semifinals will battle it out in the finals for the “TOPGUN” title, one day after the third place match between the shooters who lose in the semifinals.
Each day will witness two shooters in a ‘Race to 10’ face-off, quite like the format followed in the OSL last year. Under this format, the shooter with the higher shot will win a point and the one who reaches 10 points first will be declared the winner. It will be a best of three matches so a shooter who wins two “Race to 10” matches, e.g., 2-0 or 2-1 will be declared the day’s winner.