Bhopal, Sunday, March 19, 2023: Six Olympic medallists, including three former and reigning Olympic champions 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, being held for the first time in Bhopal’s M.P. State Shooting Academy range from March 20-27, 2023. 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.
Also arriving on the day in New Delhi, was Mr. Luciano Rossi, President, ISSF and his wife Ms. Laura Rossi, who were warmly welcomed at the New Delhi International Airport by Mr. Raninder Singh, President, NRAI, and Mr. Rajiv Bhatia, Secretary, NRAI. Commenting on the visit of the ISSF President, Mr. Singh said, “We are delighted to welcome Mr. Luciano Rossi and the wonderful Ms. Laura Rossi to India. This will be his first visit to India after being elected ISSF President in November last year and we look forward to make it a most memorable experience for both of them. We also take this opportunity to thank the President with all our heart, for continuing to support Indian shooting in every possible way. We assure him that India and the Indian Shooting fraternity will always stand steadfastly for the growth of our beloved sport and he can count on our support to him and his team in implementing their vision.”
The ISSF World Cup Rifle/Pistol Bhopal, 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, March 22, 2023. 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 Bhopal and the men’s 25m Rapid Fire Pistol (RFP) ace 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 an ISSF World Cup gold here for a total of three ISSF medals won in the country. Alison too has two ISSF silver medals in India.
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 a 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.
All in all, particularly with the presence of China, hosts India will find it tough to repeat their top finish at the Cairo Rifle/Pistol World Cup last month.