Bindra, Narang in action as India eyes Olympics quotas
Jitu Rai, Abhinav Bindra and Gangan Narang will spearhead the Indian shooting contingent as it seeks to earn a few Rio Olympic quotas at the ISSF rifle/pistol World Cup beginning in Changwon, Korea on Wednesday.
It will be the year’s first Olympic quota event after the World Championships in Grenada, Spain last September. A total of 24 (14 men and 10 women) quota places will be up for grabs.
While Rai, who had won an unprecedented seven international medals last year, including gold in Asian and Commonwealth Games and a silver at Worlds, had already bagged a quota for the 2016 Games with his podium finish at Granada, Bindra will be returning to his first major international event after the Incheon Asiad.
The Beijing Olympic gold medallist, though, did take part in a competition in Hanover, Germany earlier. Bindra will be competing in the 10m air rifle event.
Rai had finished second in the 50m free pistol in Granada.
Apart from Rai, who is ranked in the top 10 in both 50m pistol and 10m air pistol disciplines, a lot will also be expected from London Games bronze medallist Narang, currently ranked sixth in the world in 50m rifle prone as well as Ayonika Paul, currently ranked seventh in the women’s 10m air rifle.
Heena Sidhu, a former world number one and Commonwealth Games as well as World Championships gold medallist, has been recently showing a pleasant return to form and will be expected to secure an Olympic berth.
Upbeat about the team’s prospects, National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) president Raninder Singh said, “This is the year’s first big test for our rifle and pistol shooters and the squad is all fit and raring to go. We are confident that all team members will be putting their best foot forward and will continue to bring more glory to the nation, as they have been doing at the global stage for some years now.
“We wish the squad all the very best and although the competition will be tough, we hope our talented shooters secure the maximum number of Olympic quota places as they possibly can.”