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    Sanjeev Rajput faces Olympic axe


    Olympic quota winner Sanjeev Rajput has been left out of the Indian shooting squad for Rio Olympics. Out of 12 shooters who had won quota places for India, only Rajput, failed to make the cut.

    The the two-time Olympian from Haryana had ensured India edged past it’s tally of 11 shooters at the last Olympics after a hard fought quota in Men Rifle Three Positions on the final day of the Asian Olympic Qualifiers.

    Apart for an Olympic quota for Rio, 35-year-old Rajput’s achievements in the event — which also include an ISSF World Cup gold, Asian Championship gold and a silver at the 2014 Commonwealth Games — failed to impress the selectors who met on Saturday to finalise the squad for Rio.

    Rajput had to make way for Gagan Narang who was ranked higher in the National Rifle Association of India’s (NRAI) Olympic ranking list.

    Maximum two shooters in one event are allowed per country. With Chain Singh who had also won a quota in three positions and was leading the rankings in the event, it become very tough for Rajput to claim a spot in the team.

    Narang who had clinched a berth for Rio in prone maintained his ranking in top two in all three events while Chain is in the top two in both three positions and prone events. Narang will shoot in all three rifle events. He will be joined by Chain in three positions and prone while Abhinav Bindra will join him in air rifle.

    A country is allowed to swap one quota place with one in another event and the selection committee of the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI), which met on Saturday decided to swap the quota won by Rajput in three position for a quota in men’s trap.

    The trap quota won by Kynan Chennai at the Asian Olympic Qualifiers went to Manavjit Sandhu as the former world champion had a very consistent performance during the selection trials making him the top man for the job but with the quota exchange, Kynan will also be travelling to Rio.

    Rajput will be part of the 27-member Indian team for the next ISSF World Cup to be held in Rio in April, as he is among the top-3 in both prone and three positions rifle events.

    Interestingly, unlike last time, the NRAI named the squad well in advance.

    The Squad:

    Abhinav Bindra (Men’s 10m Air Rifle), Gagan Narang (Men’s 50m Rifle Three Positions, Men’s 50M Rifle Prone, Men’s 10m Air Rifle), Chain Singh (Men’s 50m Rifle Three Positions, Men’s 50m Rifle Prone), Jitu Rai (Men’s 50m Pistol, Men’s 10m Air Pistol), Gurpreet Singh (Men’s 25m Rapid Fire Pistol, Men’s 10m Air Pistol), Prakash Nanjappa (Men’s 50m Pistol), Manavjit Sandhu (Men’s Trap), Kynan Chenai (Men’s Trap), Mairaj Ahmad Khan (Men’s Skeet), Apurvi Chandela (Women’s 10m Air Rifle), Ayonika Paul (Women’s 10m Air Rifle), Heena Sidhu (Women’s 10m Air Pistol, Women’s 25m Pistol).