Paris Olympics: Another change expected in Indian shooting selection policy

The national shooting federation is redrafting the Paris Olympics selection policy for rifle and pistol shooters, giving more weight to quota winners and international performances, it is reliably learnt.

Hangzhou: Indian shooter Rudrankksh Patil competes in the qualification round of the men’s 10m Air Rifle event at the 19th Asian Games (PTI)

An Olympic quota in shooting goes to the country and can be redistributed. India has already won 13 quota places (11 in rifle and pistol events). There are only two more qualifying events left.

The National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) had devised a policy to introduce ‘Olympic Selection Trials’ to select the squad for the Paris Olympics. Accordingly, shooters will be ranked on the basis of their scores in a series of four selection trials (average of the three best scores to be calculated for the final average score). It was an overhaul of the policy used for the Tokyo Olympics which was based on performances in designated international events from the 2018 Asian Games.

After the Tokyo debacle – Indian shooters did not win a medal for the second Games in a row – it was felt that the selection policy needed to be changed and more emphasis should be placed on current form. A series of separate selection trials were devised which reduced the great advantage of quota winners in terms of carrying two bonus points. This policy which was approved by the governing body of the NRAI in October 2022 has given shooters only one point for winning a quota place, and that too will be added to a sum of three scores which will be averaged, reducing the shooter’s advantage who won the quota. present.

However, the NRAI now feels the need to amend the selection policy of the Paris Games, giving more advantage to quota winners and those who have performed well in major international events. “It’s gone from one extreme to another. In the case of Tokyo, quota winners were perceived to have more advantage with bonus points, world ranking points, etc. The advantage was fully exploited,” said a senior shooter privy to the development.

It is learned that the NRAI is working on the amendments and will announce the changes soon. “You need to pick shooters who are strong, consistent and can handle the pressure of international competitions. It shouldn’t happen that you shoot well in a series of domestic trials and are selected for the Olympic Games,” said a coach.

The other way of thinking is that running form is the most important factor and trials should be fair.

“The new policy was put together after a lot of brainstorming and if you introduce changes so late in the Olympic cycle, it won’t do anyone any good,” said another coach who was involved in drafting the current policy.

“When you give shooters two full points for winning quotas, nobody can touch them. It’s no longer a fair competition. It was reduced so that only the best shooter in form could compete at the Olympic Games. There is still a bonus point for the quota winner,” said the coach.

Another bone of contention is the eligibility criteria. For Tokyo, shooters with five international caps were eligible for selection. In the current policy, the top five shooters according to the national rankings and who have participated in at least two ISSF championships with Olympic Qualifying Rankings will be eligible to participate in the trials.

“This means that any shooter who participates in two ISSF events can do so, provided he/she has done well in domestic trials. The eligibility criteria should be based more on performance in international tournaments,” said the senior shooter.

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