Gabala (Azerbaijan): A 45-member Indian shooting contingent, among the largest in the competition along with the United States, Russia and China, will look to grabbing as many as possible 2016 Rio Olympics quota berths of the 34 available at the year’s first combined (Rifle/Pistol/Shotgun) World Cup to be held here from August 8 to 15.
The event will feature 1,106 athletes from 90 countries vying for top honours across 15 disciplines for men and women.
“We are expecting at least four quota places from the World Cup if all goes well and we aim to win the maximum number of medals for India from the Rio Olympics as well,” National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) president Raninder Singh said on Friday.
“We have a top squad with a healthy mix of experience and youth and the commitment and dedication shown by our shooters has been exemplary. With the tremendous support that the sport has been receiving from all quarters, including the government authorities, support staff, media and fans. We are sure the team will continue to do the country proud.”
India has already bagged five quotas for the 2016 Olympics out of a maximum possible 30 per nation. Abhinav Bindra, India’s only individual Olympic gold medallist, is one of the shooters who has already secured a Rio berth along with Olympic bronze medallist Gagan Narang and pistol shooters Jitu Rai and Gurpreet Singh. Apurvi Chandela is the lone woman shooter to have secured a quota for India thus far.
Sporting powerhouses China and the US lead the race, having won 20 quota places each already, followed by the likes of Russia (15), Italy (14), Germany (13), South Korea (12) and France (10). Serbia (9), Ukraine (8) and Cuba (7) complete the top-10 in the race followed by India.
For Indian shooters there is one more quota event after this — the Asian Championships in November.