Five of the leading shooters who had won the Olympic quota place for the London Games will be seen in action in the Kumar Surendra Singh shooting championship at the Karni Singh Range in Tughlakabad here from Sunday.
Despite most of the young shooters preparing for their examinations, there has been a good response as about 850 shooters have assembled for the all-India event, which is expected to have about 1150 starts in various Olympic and non-Olympic events. The intensity of competition will be magnified as the scores will be considered for national selection.
Rifle shooters Sanjeev Rajput, Imran Hasan Khan and Hariom Singh apart from pistol shooters Vijay Kumar and Rahi Sarnobat will be the star attractions, even though all of them may not be sure of their tickets to London.
Some of the other shooters such as Anisa Sayyed and Heena Sidhu, who are tipped to be in the top of the list as probables for the Olympics, as they have been unlucky not to have earned the Olympic quota themselves, would possibly attempt to press their case with impressive scores.
Men's air pistol has attracted the maximum number of entries, as the shooters perhaps find it easier to carry a pistol around, rather than a big rifle. Of course, it was a struggle for most of them to find conveyance for the hilly ride of about two kilometres near the range on Saturday, after they had reached Tughlakabad, from across the country.
There will be 293 shooters in men's air pistol, and 193 in men's air rifle. Of course, Olympic champion Abhinav Bindra and a strong aspirant for an Olympic medal, Gagan Narang, will not be competing in the meet. There will be 110 shooters for women's air pistol and 127 for women's air rifle.
While Shweta Chaudhary and Harveen Srao will be the other leading shooters in women's air pistol apart from Heena Sidhu, the women's air rifle has a clutch of top names, despite the absence of Anjali Bhagwat.
World champion in prone, Tejaswini Sawant, World championship finalist Avneet Kaur Sidhu, Lajja Gauswami, Neha Sapte, World record-holder Suma Shirur and the young Mampi Das are expected to make it lively in women's air rifle.
Samaresh Jung, Sushil Ghaley, Omkar Singh, Om Prakash, Harpeet Singh, Gurpreet Singh, Zakir Khan and Amit Kumar Pilaniya among others should make it a memorable exercise in various events in the week-long championship.
The opening day is expected to feature the final of the women's 50-metre rifle 3-position event and that should bring forward the likes Rajkumari Rathore and Meena Kumari to a clash, while Olympian Deepali Deshpande would attempt to gauge the strength of the field.
Keywords: 2012 London Olympics