New Delhi: NRAI President Raninder Singh said that he was hopeful of the Indian shooters winning "at least four Rio Olympic quota places" for the country in this year's first combined Rifle/Pistol/Shotgun ISSF World Cup starting in Gabala, Azerbaijan.
"We are expecting at least four quota places from the Gabala World Cup if all goes well, and we aim to win the maximum number of medals for India from the Rio Olympics as well," Raninder said on the eve the World Cup.
He added, "We have a top squad with a healthy mix of experience and youth and the commitment and dedication shown by our shooters have been exemplary. With the tremendous support that the sport has been receiving from all quarters, including the Government authorities, support staff, the media and the fans, we are sure the national team will continue to do the country proud."
India has so far won five Olympic quotas in shooting out of a maximum possible 30 per nation for next year's quadrennial extravaganza, through Abhinav Bindra, Gagan Narang, Jitu Rai, Apurvi Chandela and Gurpreet Singh.
In Gabala, a 45-member strong Indian squad, among the largest in the competition along with the USA, Russia and China, will look to grab as many Rio 2016 Olympic quota berths as possible out of the 34 available. Competition will begin from tomorrow.
Sporting powerhouses China and the USA lead the race, having won 20 quota places each already, followed by the likes of Russia (15), Italy (14), Germany (13), Korea (12) and France (10). Serbia (9), Ukraine (8) and Cuba (7) complete the top 10 in the race followed by India.
India's stated goal for Rio is to win 12 quota places as the bare minimum and there is one more quota event after this, in the form of Asian Shooting Championships in November, to reach that objective.
With most top shooters of the world having already secured their quotas and therefore deemed ineligible for berths according to ISSF norms, even a finish in the top six or eight, will help Indian shooters clinch quota places.
A few names to look out for in Gabala, based on recent form, include the likes of Manavjit Sandhu (trap), Chain Singh (rifle), Vijay Kumar (pistol), Heena Siddhu (pistol) and Ayonika Paul (rifle) among others.