It will be the eighth time that India will host a World Cup but the first at a location outside Delhi’s famed Dr Karni Singh Shooting ranges.
Barkheda, the town in Bhopal where the MPSSA is located, gives the feel of a sports city — with the Sports Authority of India centre and the state’s equestrian academy just a stone’s throw away from the shooting academy. The area is actually marked by the state government to bring up world class infrastructure across sports and make Barkheda a hub for both national and international tournaments.
In that context, world’s top pistol and rifle shooters will be the first to begin Barkheda’s journey as an international sports destination.
Image credit: NRAI
India’s joint-biggest squad of 37 shooters will see 22 players in medal contention, while the remaining 15 will be firing for Minimum Qualification Score only. Among those who are in the medal race, there are only three names who survived the disastrous Tokyo Olympics campaign. Rifle shooters Anjum Moudgil & Aishwary Pratap Singh Tomar and pistol ace Manu Bhaker were there in Tokyo, which was the second consecutive Olympic Games edition in which the Indian shooters returned empty-handed.
The new brigade didn’t disappoint at the Cairo World Cup earlier this year, as India topped the medals tally. But there will be a significant difference in the challenge Indian shooters face in Bhopal.
The current world number 2 will be looking at back to back World Cup golds, shooting in his backyard.… https://t.co/My7tkv9zcC
— NRAI (@OfficialNRAI) 1678881841000
CHINA RETURNS FOR WORLD CUP
For the first time in an ISSF World Cup in 2023, China has decided to field a contingent, and their squad number (37) matches India’s.
When the Indians were up against the Chinese shooters at the 2022 World Championships, India finished behind China by a significant margin. Against China’s medal count of 58, which included 27 gold, the second-placed India finished with 34 medals, including 12 gold.
That’s the enormity of the challenge facing India, who fired a blank in Tokyo, where China topped the tally with 4 gold, 1 silver and 6 bronze medals.
With no quota places for Paris 2024 on offer in the tournament, the pressure will be a little less on the 198 participating shooters from 30 countries. That gives a little more breathing space to young guns like India’s world No. 1 Rudrankksh Patil (air rifle), Sarabjot Singh (air pistol), Esha Singh (rapid fire) and Rhythm Sangwan (air pistol and rapid fire).
India’s main competitor China has gone a step ahead by fielding a young squad.
The current air pistol world champions from China, Liu Jinyao and Lu Kaiman, will be seen in action on the opening day of the competition on Wednesday when the men’s and women’s 10m gold medals will be decided.
The Hyderabadi teenager has been knocking on the doors and will be searching for her first individual… https://t.co/8TUCwQ3EkH
— NRAI (@OfficialNRAI) 1679052777000
Also heading the young Chinese unit will be 19-year-old rifleman Du Linshu who won an astonishing five gold medals at the Cairo World Championships in the junior category, besides Min Hou who won two 50m rifle junior gold medals. Among the talented Chinese teenagers is also the 18-year-old Lihao Sheng — the men’s 10m air rifle silver medallist from the Tokyo Olympics.
USA’s eight-member squad includes Alison Marie Weisz, who became the women’s air rifle champion last year, when India’s Rudrankksh Patil topped the podium in the men’s event.
Another #chandigarh marksman, he brings out his best at home. Will he be on target at home?#KnowYourShootingStar… https://t.co/LMBSx9dfj9
— NRAI (@OfficialNRAI) 1679144770000
Among the other greats at the firing points at the MPSSA will be Germany’s Rio 2016 Olympics rapid fire pistol champion Christian Reitz and Switzerland’s Jan Lochbihler, who is the men’s 50m rifle prone world champion.
The only reigning Olympic champion shooter in the fray will be France’s rapid fire specialist Jean Quiquampoix.
The five competition days from Jan 22 to 26 will see 10 finals across Olympic events.