The 2021 ISSF World Cup in Osijek, Croatia will be a perfect platform for the Indian shooters to hone their skills before the summer games in Tokyo next month.
The performances in this event will provide a good indicator of how the Indian shooting team could perform in Tokyo. The 11-day competition begins on 22nd June and will conclude on 3rd July.
It’s only the second combined World Cup (Rifle/Pistol/Shotgun) since the outbreak of COVID-19. The Indian shooting team will field 13 shooters in the "Rifle" and "Pistol" sections. Here’s the list of the top 5 events to watch out for at the 2021 ISSF World Cup in Osijek, Croatia:
1) 10m Air Rifle Men in 2021 ISSF World Cup:
Divyansh Singh Panwar bagged bronze in this year’s first international competition (2021 ISSF World Cup, New Delhi). He currently holds the World No.2 ranking. He is expected to finish on the podium in this competition as well.
Deepak Kumar, another top shooter, will represent India at the event. He couldn’t get through the qualification stage in New Delhi. The current World No.11 missed out by a small margin in Delhi. He will be aiming to make amends and perform better this time around.
2) 10m Air Rifle Women in 2021 ISSF World Cup:
India possesses as many as three world class shooters in this discipline. Elavenil Valarivan, Anjum Moudgil and Apurvi Chandela are all medal contenders. Only World No.3 - Anjum Moudgil made it to the finals of the 2021 ISSF World Cup in New Delhi.
World No.1 - Elavenil Valarivan and world No.11 - Apurvi Chandela will look to rectify their mistakes from their last outing. Apurvi Chandela has recently recovered from COVID-19. It will be interesting to see if she can get back to her best in Croatia.
3) 10m Air Pistol Men in 2021 ISSF World Cup:
Abhishek Verma and Saurabh Chaudhary will feature in this event. They have collectively shot in at least 4 finals in the ISSF World Cups. They seem to be competing against each other for the gold medal. This indicates the dominance of the Indian shooting team internationally.
Abhishek Verma is World No.1 and Saurabh Chaudhary is World No.2 at the moment. They will look to carry their rich vein of form to the Tokyo Olympics. Although a slip-up at this stage might upset their rhythm, the chances of it are negligible.
4) 10m Air Pistol Women in 2021 ISSF World Cup:
World No.1 Yashaswini Singh Deswal stood first in the 2021 ISSF World Cup in New Delhi. World No.2 Manu Bhaker wasn’t too far behind. She had secured second spot on the podium. It would be no surprise if these young prodigies replicate similar success at the 2021 ISSF World Cup in Osijek, Croatia.
Manu Bhaker is currently being coached by former Commonwealth Games champion - Ronak Pandit. She ended a long association with her initial coach and another star shooter, Jaspal Rana, in March. Will this change in coaching personnel affect her performance? The upcoming competition will definitely answer this question!
5) 25m Sports Pistol Women in 2021 ISSF World Cup:
Current Asian Games champion Rahi Sarnobat leads the charge in this event. She won the silver medal in the 2021 ISSF World Cup in New Delhi. The victory was made special by the fact that it was just after a surgery on her infected foot.
In April, she was diagnosed with COVID-19. She has recovered from the virus now and will be hoping to get back in the groove through this competition. Teenage sensation Manu Bhaker is also a medal prospect. A lot of buzz has been created around this event.
Despite Chinki Yadav's late surge, the World No. 1 was unlucky to book a spot in the Tokyo Olympic team. She has been left out of the squad traveling to Croatia as her overall form over the last few years has been slightly inconsistent. It is a decision taken in accordance with the National Rifle Association of India’s selection policy.
Will this bear any consequences for Rahi Sarnobat and Manu Bhaker? The 2021 ISSF World Cup in Osijek, Croatia will provide answers to these questions!