Indian shooting squad hopes to give a strong performance at the ISSF World Cup to be staged at the Dr. Karni Singh Shooting Range, New Delhi, from February 22 to March 4th.
A total of 50 nations will see 452 athletes take 584 starts, among them reigning and former Olympic Champions, World Champions and Continental Champions lining up against India’s top guns, in the year’s first World Cup.
The tournament will be preceded by ISSF’s executive board meeting tomorrow, which will be chaired by president Olegario Vazquez Rana.
National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) chief Raninder Singh sounded excited about hosting the Administrative Council and Executive Council meetings of the ISSF, saying that some important decisions could emerge from these meetings. He also added that the sport of shooting has come a long way in the country and the ISSF World Cup New Delhi 2017 is certainly yet another inflexion point for the sport in the country.
Interacting with the media ahead of the mega-event were Olympic bronze-medallist Gagan Narang, Olympians Jitu Rai, Heena Sidhu and Kynan Chenai, who will be spearheading the Indian challenge.
Narang, who will be competing only in rifle prone event at the Dr. Karni Singh Shooting Range, said, “It is a great opportunity for the shooting fraternity to watch us live at home in such a world class competition. The rule changes are aimed at making the sport more interesting.” The World Championship and Olympic medallist Narang said that he was working hard towards regaining his place back in the Indian team for air rifle and 3-position events.
Looking ahead, Heena said, “Though there are no Olympics and quota events but I would say this is actually the most important year. Because this is the year in which I can solely focus on my training and as this is not a result-oriented year, there will be less pressure. I can work on my technique and make changes. It’s like setting the base for Olympics.
“We have identified the problem areas, and worked on them. Actually I was getting too much into the nitty-gritties and hence forgot about the basics somewhere. Now, I am again going back to the basics.”
While Jitu Rai observed that it would be an important event for him, Heena Sidhu pointed out that the newly introduced mixed doubles events could catch the interest of the fans, as she had noticed during the European championship.
Even though she was equally at ease as No.1 in the 10-metre air pistol and 25-metre sports pistol events in the country, Heena who holds a world record in air pistol, said that she wanted to focus on one event at the start of the season.
A world-class field has already started assembling in the capital for the season’s First World Cup, interestingly the complete cycle for which also ends in India this year with the World Cup Finals, slated at the same venue in October. Among the world’s top shooters present will be the likes of Diana Bacosi, Gabriele Rosetti, Hoang Xuan Vinh, Mengxue Zhang, Felipe Almeida Wu, Kimberly Rhodes and double Dakar rally champion and Olympic Bronze medalist in Shooting, Nasser Al-Attaiya.