It’s been more than 12 weeks since the majority of the Indian Shooting Team competed in any international tournament. The last instance was the 2021 ISSF World Cup New Delhi (18th March-29th March). After its conclusion, the NRAI (National Rifle Association Of India) decided to send its Tokyo-Olympic bound shooters to Croatia for training.
India was experiencing a massive surge in COVID-19 cases due to the second wave of the on-going pandemic. The grave situation was deterring the preparations of the elite athletes. Hence, the decision was taken to send the shooters abroad. The Croatian Shooting Federation readily agreed to host the Indian Shooting Team once the NRAI made a formal request.
The 13-member Indian Olympic Rifle and Pistol squad along with the coaches and the support staff arrived in Zagreb (The Capital Of Croatia) on 12th May. As per COVID-19 protocols, they had to serve a 7-day quarantine period. After clearing the mandatory COVID-19 tests, the team practiced for a couple of days.
Then, they left for Osijek to participate in the European Championships (20th May-6th June). India, being an Asian country, was given entry only in the MQS (Minimum Qualification Score) section. This meant that no Indian shooter was eligible to play the ‘Finals’ round even if he/she went past the ‘Qualification’ stage. Given this constraint, the target set for every Indian shooter was to shrug off the lack of match practice.
The upcoming 2021 ISSF World Cup will give India's Olympic-medal hopefuls another chance to get into the groove before heading for Tokyo. The quadrennial event is set to take place from July 23 - August 8.
Baku’s Loss, Osijek’s Gain - The Reason Behind Croatia Hosting the 2021 ISSF World Cup:
This tournament is only the second international event in the rifle & pistol category this year (the first was staged in India). It will be the fourth international event to take place in the shotgun category (Egypt, India & Italy hosted the earlier three).
COVID-19 has created havoc in the schedule of many events for various sporting disciplines. The shooting sport is no exception to it. After the 2021 ISSF World Cup in New Delhi, the original roadmap to Tokyo consisted of World Cups in Changwon (South Korea) and Baku (Azerbaijan).
There was also an Olympic test event scheduled in Tokyo. A test event is deemed to be the perfect dress-rehearsal for any shooter as it’s staged in the very same range which is supposed to host the Olympics.
Unfortunately, all of these events were called-off due to COVID-19. The window created due to the cancelation of the 2021 ISSF World Cup in Baku gave an opportunity to the Croatian Shooting Federation to host the event.
The 2021 ISSF World Cup begins on 22nd June and will conclude on 2nd July. The 11-day event will comprise of as many as 30 different events (though only 15 of these will be recognized by the International Olympic Committee).
The Hype Around The 2021 ISSF World Cup Croatia Explained:
At the 2021 ISSF World Cup in New Delhi, the Indian Shooting Team topped the medal tally by a walloping margin of 11 golds (30 medals in total). The massive 57-member contingent, playing in the home range, produced a perfect display to dominate proceedings.
Only 13 Indian shooters will feature in the 2021 ISSF World Cup in Croatia. So, it’s expected that India’s medal count will be relatively lower than their tally from Delhi. Moreover, the tournament will be a hard-fought one as all the participants worldwide will look to test their readiness before the all-important Tokyo Olympics.
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