Harpal Singh Bedi
New Delhi: A huge contingent of 108 shooters ( 63 men and 45 women) will represent India in the senior, junior and youth categories across the disciplines of Rifle, Pistol and Shotgun, as competitions to the 14thAsian Shooting Championship (ASC) get underway on Tuesday, at the Lusail Shooting Complex in Lusail, Qatar.
The 10-day continental championship this year is important as the competitors will also be fighting to secure 38 Tokyo 2020 Olympic quota places, which will be up for grabs across 12 of the 15 Olympic shooting events.
The three Mixed Team events are not giving out quotas and the Men’s 25m Rapid Fire Pistol competition will give out a maximum of four quotas in an event.
India has already secured nine Tokyo quotas in Rifle and Pistol and lie behind China (25 quotas) and Korea (12) in the Asian region, beside host-country Japan (12 allotted slots), in terms of quotas won.
“The team is raring to go and confident of a good show. While quotas are high on priority, we should not forget that a good show at the region’s top competition is by itself no mean feat. The aim is definitely to surpass the number of quotas won at the last Olympics (13) and the more the merrier,” summed up Samaresh Jung, High Performance Coach Pistol, of the National Squad.
Day one of competitions has four finals lined up. Indian shooters will be eligible to pick up just one quota place out of the nine on offer on Tuesday. That one will have to be among the three available in the Men’s 10m Air Rifle, the day’s very first final.
Youngster Yash Vardhan is the man in form having sizzled in domestic competitions and trials in the run-up, however Deepak Kumar is the most experienced of the three Indians on show and might just be the one to watch out for, specially with his record of making big event finals and the powerful Chinese out of quota contention.
The other matter of Indian interest on the opening day will be how much the women Rifle and Pistol shooters are able to consolidate their new found dominance in their respective 10m Air events over their continental peers.
Indians who have already secured Tokyo berths for the country and therefore are not eligible to win quotas any more are as follows:
Apurvi Chandela and Anjum Moudgil (Women’s 10m Air Rifle), Saurabh Chaudhary and Abhishek Verma (Men’s 10m Air Pistol), Manu Bhaker and Yashaswini Singh Deswal (Women’s 10m Air Pistol), Rahi Sarnobat (Women’s 25m Pistol), Sanjeev Rajput (Men’s 50m Rifle 3 Positions) and Divyansh Singh Panwar (Men’s 10m Air Rifle).
As per the rules a maximum of two Olympic berths can be won per event by a country therefore India will not be eligible for quotas in those events where they have already secured two quotas.The 14thASC is scheduled to get over on November 13, 2019, with 35 finals on the roster besides straight one-round deciders of some non-olympic events.