Olympics: NRAI picks shooting squad on form, backs Sandeep over Rudrankksh

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Olympics: NRAI picks shooting squad on form, backs Sandeep over Rudrankksh

The Indian shooting squad (rifle/pistol) for the Paris Games was selected by the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) based on "current form" after the country's two consecutive Olympic medal droughts. This decision was made after extensive internal selection trials.

The eight rifle and pistol disciplines saw five shooters compete in the first-ever Olympic Selection Trials (OST) hosted by NRAI last month. There were some surprising results from the studies. Three shooters who placed first in the World Championships were left off the roster. The most well-known of them was Rudrankksh Patil, the 2022 world champion and the first shooter to guarantee India's spot in Paris for the 10m air rifle competition.

The 20-year-old gunman requested consideration from NRAI in a letter, citing his "consistent performance" on a global scale. But surprise trials topper Sandeep Singh, the comparatively inexperienced Army shooter who startled the field in air rifle, has the support of the NRAI selection committee.

As many as nine of the 16 quotas in the rifle and pistol events have changed hands, and bonus points for quota winners are essentially nonexistent. In addition to Rudrankksh, two medal winners from the world championships, Mehuli Ghosh and Akshil Sheoran, were left off of the squad consisting of fifteen rifle and pistol shooters. Following the World Cup in Italy, the Paris shotgun team will be revealed.

"We talked for a long time. The selection policy explains everything, yet no selection policy is ever faultless. You will always point out where things are lacking, but considering the level of competition in pistol and rifle, the selection committee reasoned that we should choose the best shooter in peak condition, and we had the recent trials to confirm that," stated Kalikesh Singh Deo, senior vice-president of the NRAI, who presided over the meeting of the committee.

The panel was able to make a decision thanks to the results of the ISSF Munich World Cup, which was held following the domestic trials. Rudrankksh came in at number eighteen (630.7), while Sandeep came in at number ten (631.4). "There are no prerequisites for mixed team events. Our teams are ranked firmly within the top half of the quotas, and as far as we can tell, there are 29 firing points. Two teams shouldn't provide any difficulties. Sandeep will receive extra points for Munich as well," according to Singh Deo.

In mixed team air rifle events, Arjun Babuta will partner with Asian Games winner Ramita Jindal, while Sandeep will team up with Elavenil Valarivan, who is rated 14th in QROG.

Manu to shoot in 3 events

The star of the trials, Manu Bhaker, has demonstrated remarkable form in the run-up to the Olympics in Paris. She'll compete in mixed team events with Sarabjot Singh, as well as air pistol and 25m pistol events. In addition to Manu, the Tokyo Olympics squad has sent Anjum Moudgil, Elavenil Valarivan, and Aishwary Pratap Tomar (rifle 3P) to Paris. Their experience will force them to take on the burden of leading India's campaign in Paris.

Sift Kaur Samra, the gold medallist from the Asian Games, and Esha Singh, the four-medallist pistol shooter, will also be heading to Paris with a lot of form and confidence. Manu was able to clear one quota spot in pistol after winning the trials in both events. In return, NRAI is eligible to get a quota in women's trapping. However, NRAI must first obtain ISSF approval before dispersing the quota due to the restricted number of fire points in the Paris range.

"We're trying to provide that quota to women's trap since we can swap the quota for events with the same gender. There can only be one female trap quota fulfilled. But the ISSF and the IOC will have to decide," Singh Deo stated. The surplus of quotas (to be re-allocated) will depend on the limited starting points. We would prefer to switch the quota to women's trap, as we have said in a letter to ISSF.