Like most other Indian shooters, Vijay Kumar may not have done much of note this season, but he will be a dark horse for a medal in the Olympics in London.
The rapid fire pistol specialist, who has two World Cup silver medals in his kitty, will have the smallest field to contend with in the 25-metre event, in which shooters face the challenge of firing at five targets in one flow in eight-second, six-second and four-second series. It is the only event in the current Olympic cycle in which the finalists do not enjoy the advantage of higher qualification scores, as all the six start at the same level in a knock-out format.
As per the latest information from the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF), rapid fire pistol will have only 17 entries. In the last Olympics in Beijing, there were 19. There may be the odd shooter, competing in the event as a double starter, along with his other main event.
Sodhi among favourites
Men's double trap will be another event that will have minimum entries, in which Asian Games champion Ronjan Sodhi will start as one of the favourites, having won the gold in the World Cup finals in the last two editions.
There were only 18 who had qualified, and US exchanged one of its women's air rifle quota places for a second entry in double trap.
When it distributed 24 tripartite invitation places, eight quota places that were not distributed owing to the shooters not achieving the ‘minimum qualifying scores' during the qualification events — apart from three quota places that were returned — the ISSF gave one entry each in men's double trap for Oman and Puerto Rico.
Incidentally, host Britain had returned two quota places — one each in men's air pistol and rapid fire pistol — while exchanging one of the women's sport pistol quota for men's rifle prone event.
Egypt was the other team that surrendered its quota places won in men's free rifle 3-position and rapid fire pistol events, and got one additional quota place in men's skeet.
Except the US and Egypt, all the other 66 countries retained all of their quota places. The ISSF distributed a total of 35 quota places, one each to countries that had not won an Olympic quota, to take the total number of countries entering the fray in the London Games to 103.
There will be 390 shooters in all, competing in 15 events for 45 medals.
Russia (24), China (23), US (21), Australia (17), Germany (17), Italy (15), Korea (14), France (14), Britain (11), India (11) and the Czech Republic (10) are the countries that have won Olympic entries in double figures.
As mentioned, Britain had returned two of its 13 entries, and Egypt one of eight.
The distribution of quota places in the men's events are, free rifle 3-position (22), prone (24), air rifle (29), free pistol (20), rapid fire pistol (17), air pistol (30), trap (33), double trap (21), skeet (35); and in women's events, standard rifle 3-posiiton (26), air rifle (39), sport pistol (23), air pistol (33), trap (21) and skeet (17).
The eventual entries during competition may vary as shooters like Gagan Narang will compete in more than one event, as they are eligible to compete in other events if they have the MQS in those events apart from the main event in which they have gained qualification.
Keywords: 2012 London Olympics