Bhopal, 21 March: Six Olympic medallists, as well as six reigning world champions, will headline a field of 198 shooters from 30 countries at the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup Rifle/Pistol stage, to be held here from 20 to 27 March.

Hosts India and China-participating in their first ISSF world cup this year, have entered the largest contingent of 37 shooters as Brazil and Singapore became the first foreign contingents to arrive in Madhya Pradesh’s capital city.

Besides India and China, some other foreign squads that have already arrived also include the likes of Denmark, Switzerland, USA, Korea, France, and Germany among others. Monday will see the maximum arrivals before the official opening ceremony on March 21, 2023. The competitions begin on March 22, 2023.

ISSF president Luciano Rossi, and his wife also arrived to attend the championship. This is his first visit to India after being elected ISSF President in November last year

The ISSF World Cup Rifle/Pistol will see a total of 10 finals, all Olympic events, over five consecutive competition days. The two (men and women) 10m Air Pistol events get decided first on Wednesday, China’s Liu Jinyao and Lu Kaiman are the reigning men’s and women’s world champions in the event and both have arrived in Bhopal.

Jean Quiquampoix of France will be the only reigning Olympic champion on show in the 25m Rapid Fire Pistol (RFP). He will be leading a strong five-member French contingent, which also includes Clement Bessaguet, a silver medallist at the Cairo worlds last year and Lamolle Mathilde, who won the women’s 25m Pistol (SPW) event at the Cairo World Cup last month.

USA has sent an eight-member contingent including reigning women’s air rifle world champion Alison Marie Weisz, who won alongside India’s Rudrankksh Patil at the Cairo World Championships last year. Carolyn Mary Tucker, Tokyo Olympics silver medallist in the air-rifle mixed team event is also here along with her Tokyo partner Lucas Koziniesky. Carolyn likes India and has a World Cup gold here for a total of three ISSF medals won in the country. Alison too has two ISSF silver medals in India.

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One of the all-time great pistol shooters and Rio Olympics champion in RFP, Christian Reitz, will also be on show leading a 13-member German contingent which includes Monika Karsch, a Rio Olympics silver medallist and Doreen Vennekamp, who won the SPW event at the ISSF World Cup Final in Cairo last year. Switzerland’s Jan Lochbihler, the reigning men’s prone world champion will also be competing in Bhopal.

Powerhouses China, on the other hand, have sent a squad which is tilted towards their upcoming talent.19-year-old Du Linshu who won a total of five golds at the Cairo Worlds and a total of seven medals in the junior category. Min Hou also won double gold in the juniors at the Cairo worlds last year. 16-year-old Huang Yuting is already a reigning senior world champion in the 10m Air Rifle Mixed Team event. Relatively experienced is 18-year-old Lihao Sheng, who won the men’s 10m air rifle silver at the Tokyo Olympics as are the two reigning world champs Liu and Lu in the 10m air pistol. 

With the presence of China, hosts India may find it tough to repeat their top finish at the Cairo Rifle/Pistol World Cup last month.

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