New Delhi [India], June 23 (ANI): A 13-member Tokyo 2020 Olympics-bound Indian Rifle and Pistol shooting squad, is all set to begin their engagements at the year's final International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup Rifle/Pistol/Shotgun stage, in the quaint Croatian town of Osijek from Thursday.
The first day of competitions have four finals, basically all the individual 10M Air events in Rifle and Pistol, lined up and will see as many as 11-Indians vying for the coveted ISSF World Cup medal.
"This will be their final international assignment before the quadrennial showpiece in the Japanese capital, whose opening ceremony is scheduled exactly a month from today. India have fielded three shooters in each of the four medal events on Thursday, barring the Men's 10M Air Pistol, where they have two shooters in world numbers one and two, Abhishek Verma and Saurabh Chaudhary," stated an official release.
The day begins however with the 10M Air Rifle Men' competition where India's Deepak Kumar and world number two Divyansh Singh Panwar will attempt to qualify for the eight-man final. They will also be joined by Three Positions (3P) exponent Aishwary Pratap Singh Tomar, thereby enabling them to also compete for the Men's Team event.
That will be followed by the Women's 10M Air Rifle qualifiers where Elavenil Valarivan, also currently world number one, will start alongside teammates Apurvi Chandela and Anjum Moudgil.
Rahi Sarnobat, Manu Bhaker and Yashaswini Deswal will then feature in the Women's 10M Air Pistol qualifiers, sandwiched between the two Air Rifle finals.
Finally, Abhishek and Saurabh compete in the Men's 10M Air Pistol qualifiers, scheduled in between the Women's Rifle and Pistol finals.
A total of 520 shooting athletes from 47 countries have assembled in Osijek. They would be taking a total of 1134 starts.
The ISSF World Cup bandwagon set rolling in Cairo, Egypt, in February this year, with a Shotgun-only world cup, and the first combined world cup was then held in New Delhi, India, in March.
Since then, there has been another Shotgun World Cup in Lonato, Italy, which makes the Osijek competition the fourth Shotgun and the second Rifle and Pistol World Cup for the year.
The world's top shooters including strong contingents from Shooting heavyweights like Russia, Germany, France, Italy, besides hosts Croatia, will be looking to fine-tune their skills before heading for the Tokyo Games next month.
Some top names to watch out for besides the Indian stars would be the likes of Olympic and World Champion Anna Korakakki of Greece, reigning Olympic Champion Christian Reitz of Germany, world number one in Rifle Istvan Peni of Hungary, as well as such Shooting legends as Rajmond Debevec of Slovenia.
India will send 15-shooters to the Summer Olympic Games this time around and the 13 at Osijek have been training in Croatia for close to two months now. The two Skeet shooters for Tokyo, Mairaj Khan and Angad Bajwa, are training in Italy and have opted out of the World Cup basis advice from their coaches. That leaves India without an entry in the Shotgun category.
India have off-late dominated the ISSF World Cups, particularly in Rifle and Pistol events and have finished on top of the medals tally in the previous New Delhi combined world cup as well.
More medals are naturally expected therefore over the next nine days of competition. There are a total of 30 finals lined up in that period. (ANI)