NEW DELHI: The National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) will be naming the shooters for the Olympics a week after the ongoing ISSF World Cup.
"We will announce the team a week after the World Cup. We will have a meeting and the names will be announced. The current form will be taken into account with qualifying scores also evaluated," Raninder Singh, NRAI president, revealed on Wednesday.
The emergence of new stars has made certain fields highly competitive. That certain high-profile shooters have faltered post lockdown has added to the intrigue.
These include the women's and men's 10m air rifle and the women's 25m pistol. Among women's rifle shooters, Apurvi Chandela had a great 2019 season with two World Cup gold medals. Fellow quota holder Anjum Moudgil rose to No 2 following her quota win at the World Championships but has not medalled in the World Cups since.
The emergence of Elavenil Valarivan, who won two gold in 2019 and rose to No. 1 in the world, has added spice to the mix. In the current meet, Anjum was the only one to qualify in the individual event before going on to finish fifth while Elavenil won the mixed team gold.
Apurvi missed her shot in the team final, costing her team a bronze medal. Anjum said that she was slowly getting back on track after a below-par performance in the trials.
"I feel the pressure is off after reaching the finals. I'm taking it one day at a time and I'm feeling very confident." Rifle high-performance coach Deepali Deshpande was confident that both quota winners would get back to their best.
"There were equipment issues but we are talking about two seasoned pros. They know what it takes to be the best."
In the men's 10m air rifle event, quota holder Deepak Kumar, who had undergone a minor surgery, failed to qualify while India No 2 Arjun Babuta qualified for the finals and finished fifth.
"I had a back injury because of which I missed out in 2019. I have shot well here and I'm hoping the selection committee looks at these scores," the 22-year-old said.
In Wednesday's action, India occupied all spots on the podium in a 25m women's pistol with quota holder Chinki Yadav winning gold. Rahi Sarnobat (quota holder) and Manu Bhaker bagged silver and bronze, respectively. Manu was visibly disappointed and Chinki revealed that team selection was adding to the pressure.
"There was pressure but I tried not to focus too much on it." When pressed further on whether this gold would cement her spot in the national team, "I hope so," she added.
Aishwary clinches gold Tokyo quota holder Aishwary Pratap Singh Tomar dominated the men's 50m rifle 3 positions event, clinching gold with a score of 462.5 ahead of Hungary's World No 1 Istvan Peni (461.6) and Denmark's Steffen Olsen (450.9).
"The scores were low because of the weather — it was windy and it rained towards the end. I was satisfied with the way I shot yesterday (Tuesday). I was under pressure today (Wednesday) but I handled it well and I'm delighted with my first senior gold," Aishwary said.
Veteran and fellow Olympic quota holder Sanjeev Rajput finished sixth while Niraj Kumar was eighth. The only dampener of the day was the fact that none of the Indian women managed to qualify for the rifle 3 positions final.