Competition-starved Indian shooters want to come out all guns blazing in January trials

After a year-long competitive break in 2020, Indian shooters will be vying for national team spots for the 2021 season.

By Rahul Venkat ·

Indian shooters will finally return to action early next year at the national selection trials, which is set to begin on January 5 at the Dr Karni Singh Stadium in New Delhi.

The participants will include Divyansh Singh Panwar, the top-ranked shooter in the men’s 10m Air Rifle, and Saurabh Chaudhary, ranked world No. 4 in the 10m Air Pistol.

“There has not been any competition last year as the calendar was disrupted by the pandemic. Hence, it will be a good platform to make an honest assessment of the athletes,” former Indian shooter Samaresh Jung told the Hindustan Times.

Jung, a former Olympian, and seven-time Commonwealth Games gold-medallist, serves as the head coach of the Indian pistol shooting team.

The trials, which will be held over 10 days, will determine the Indian squad for the 2021 season, which begins with the ISSF Shotgun Grand Prix in Rabat, Morocco on January 28.

However, the main focus will be on the ISSF Shotgun World Cup to be held in Egypt in February and the combined ISSF World Cups in March and April.

The season’s first ISSF World Cup will begin on March 18 in New Delhi while the second one will be held in Changwon, South Korea starting April 16.

The January national trials, held by the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI), traditionally invites shooters from across the country to pick the best possible squad for the season.

However, the 2021 January trials are restricted to only the top shooters in the country in order to reduce COVID-related risks, according to the Hindustan Times.

The country’s top-27 in the 10m Air Pistol and top-31 in the 10m Air Rifle have been called to New Delhi while only the top-16 in the 25m Rapid Pistol and top-20 in the 50m Rifle Three Positions have been invited.

The highest number of participants will be seen in the trap event, which will have 49 shooters.

Indian shooters have earned 15 quotas for the Tokyo Olympics next year, the highest in the nation’s history.

The likes of top-ranked 10m Air Rifle women shooter Elavenil Valarivan and world No. 2 in the 10m Air Pistol women Manu Bhaker will be looking to regain their scintillating form to make the Indian shooters squad and prepare for Tokyo.