Rifle, pistol team for Olympics announced; Bhaker picked in two individual events

NewsDrum Desk
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New Delhi, Jun 11 (PTI) Women's pistol ace Manu Bhaker was the only one to be picked in two individual events after her excellent run of form in selection trials as the national shooting federation on Tuesday announced a 15-member Indian rifle and pistol team for the Paris Olympics.

The team was finalised during a selection meeting held virtually. The squad has eight rifle shooters and seven in pistol discipline.

The selectors decided to give precedence to trial results, shutting the door on the likes of world champion Rudrankksh Patil, who has been pleading to be considered despite underwhelming scores in his pet 10m air rifle event as he had won the quota.

In shooting, quotas are won by countries and not individual athletes.

All the team members, along with the coaches and support staff, are currently in a camp in Volmerange-Les-Mines, France, mainly aimed at "acclimatisation and hard-training" before they come back home for a two-week break.

The shotgun squad will be announced after the ISSF World Cup in Lonato, Italy, competitions in which start from Wednesday and go on till June 18.

The Paris Games will be held from July 26 to August 11.

Indian shooters managed to secure a record 21 of the 24 possible quotas, including a full allocation of eight each in rifle and pistol events.

This is India's best-ever quota haul in shooting at any edition of the Olympics, eclipsing the 15 from Tokyo Games.

This means the athlete who clinched the quota can be replaced by another, leading up to the Games on the basis of scores in the selection trials conducted by the national federation.

Sharing his thoughts, National Rifle Association of India's (NRAI) senior vice president Kalikesh Narayan Singh Deo, said, "The selection committee met and deliberated at length. After deliberating at length, we feel we have selected the best team on current form as per merit and sticking to the policy.

"We are confident that everything has been put in place for the team to deliver. Given our depth in rifle and pistol, some very good shooters are not part of the squad. However, they will have a chance to make a comeback. We wish the squad all the very best." Deo is right as the performance of the shooters in the trials underlined India's depth and bench strength in rifle and pistol shooting but that is no guarantee for a rich haul at the Olympics.

For proof, one can go back to the Tokyo and Rio Games, where India fielded 12 and 15-member teams and returned empty-handed on both occasions.

On behalf of the federation, Deo thanked the Government of India, the Sports Ministry, and the Sports of Authority of India, who have "guided and supported us in every step of the preparations." Besides all 16 possible shots at a medal, in eight individual rifle and pistol events, India will also have a record five starts across the four individual shotgun events. Additionally, India will also field five mixed teams, two each in rifle and pistol and one in shotgun.

K Sultan Singh, secretary general at NRAI, said, "The team is in good form and battle ready, consisting of as many as four Olympians and other senior shooters as well as a lot of extremely promising, confident and matured young talent.

"They have been training very systematically for a long time under the guidance and support of the entire training squad of the HPD (High-Performance Director), foreign coaches, national coaches, the sports science team, the physios etc. who have been steadfastly and minutely working towards one goal and that is to have a successful podium finish." The NRAI will also be looking to exchange the spare quota place which has freed up because of Bhaker making it to two events, appropriately as per ISSF (International Shooting Sport Federation) rules.

Indian rifle and pistol team for Paris Olympics: Rifle: Sandeep Singh, Arjun Babuta (10m Air Rifle M), Elavenil Valarivan, Ramita (10m Air Rifle W), Sift Kaur Samra, Anjum Moudgil (50m Rifle 3 Positions W), Aishwary Tomar, Swapnil Kusale (50m Rifle 3 Positions M) Pistol: Sarabjot Singh, Arjun Cheema (10m Air Pistol M), Manu Bhaker, Rhythm Sangwan (10m Air Pistol W), Anish Bhanwal Vijayveer Sidhu (25m RFP M) , Manu Bhaker, Esha Singh (25m Pistol W). PTI AH PM AH PM PM