Indians look to raise the bar on home turf

Spotlight on Mittal; Jitu and Heena eager to strike again

Indians look to raise the bar on home turf

Indian shooters will be eager to leave their mark in the season-ending World Cup Final which begins at the Dr Karni Singh shooting ranges on Tuesday.

The tournament, staging rifle/pistol and shotgun events, will witness the participation of a string of Olympic and World Champions. For the first time, the three mixed team events in pistol, rifle and trap, which have been added to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, will feature in a total of 18 events.

The 10-member Indian contingent has added relevance to country’s hosting of the prestigious event for the first time. The fact that several young faces have qualified for the last act of the season augurs well for Indian shooting ahead of the 2018 Commonwealth Games and Asian Games.

The Indian double-trap shooters have done phenomenally well this season. World No 1 Ankur Mittal, who has been in sensational form, Sangram Dahiya and 15-year-old prodigy Shapath Bharadwaj will attempt to win medals in double-trap, which has been ousted from the Olympics.

For Shapath, the youngest in the fray, there are obviously a few nerves. “I am a bit nervous as this is my first time. It has been a dream first year on the senior circuit for me. I didn’t know about World Cup Final until recently. So when I got to know, I thought someday I will also qualify for it. I never knew it will come so soon!” said the class X student, who is mulling to shift to trap next year.

The Indian interest will also lie in the mixed doubles events where two teams have qualified. Jitu Rai and Heena Sidhu will participate in the mixed team pistol and Deepak Kumar and Meghana Sajjanar in the air rifle.

Jitu, who has won medals at all levels but Olympics, was satisfied with his preparations. He will be competing in air pistol and free pistol besides the mixed air pistol event.

“The preparations have been going well. I am confident of doing well. I will do everything to win a gold medal here. We will be up against many former and current Olympic champions, but we are playing at home. A bit of pressure is always there, but I will not let the fans down,” Jitu said.

A total of 162 athletes from 45 countries will be competing in the event. Some top global stars who will be seen in action include three-time Olympic Champion and skeet legend Kimberly Rhode of the USA, Vietnam’s first-ever Olympic champion Xuan Vinh Hoang in men’s air pistol, Greece’s 21-year-old pistol sensation Anna Korakaki and 20-year-old American Virginia Thrasher who won the women’s 10M air rifle gold in Rio de Janeiro on her Olympic debut.

DH News Service

 

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