Shooters aim high ahead of Munich World Cup

Shooting 260 2Munich: Indian hopes will rest on Deepak Kumar, Ravi Kumar and Satyendra Singh when the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup (Rifle/Pistol) stage four gets underway here on Friday.

The first two of the total 10 gold medals in the tournament will be up for grabs at the famous Olympic Shooting Range on the opening day of the competition.

The trio of Deepak, Ravi and Satyendra will be in action in the Men's 10m Air Rifle event, which will see a staggering 129 shooters from 59 countries line up to qualify for the eight-man final.

The women's event will see 122 shooters from 55 countries compete for top honours.

Both Deepak and Ravi made it through to the final of the event in the first World Cup stage held in New Delhi in March, finishing fifth and eighth respectively.

They would be looking to improve upon that performance and come back with a medal in an event which has produced two Olympic medals for the country, including its only ever individual Olympic gold medal.

It will not be easy, given five of the eight 2016 Rio Olympics finalists will be in the fray. They are silver medallist Serhiy Kulish of Ukraine, bronze medallist Vladimir Maslennikov of Russia, Oleh Tsarkov of Ukraine, the experienced former World Champion and multiple World Cup Gold medallist Peter Sidi of Hungary, Illia Charheika of Belarus, as well as former Olympic Champion Alin Moldoveanu of Romania.

The women's field is also packed, both with numbers and quality and Pooja Ghatkar of India, who won her first World Cup bronze in New Delhi earlier this year, will again be leading India's challenge along with Rio Olympian Apurvi Chandela.

The young Meghana Sajjanar of Bengaluru will be the third Indian in the fray.

The event will see reigning Olympic champion Virginia Thrasher of the US for the first time in competition after the Rio Games.

She will be challenged by the likes of Rio Olympics silver medallist in the women's Prone Zhang Binbin of China; former World Champion and finalist at Rio Petra Zublasing of Italy; Daria Vdovina of Russia; and multiple World Cup gold medallist Snjezana Pejcic of Croatia.

The opening day will see the elimination rounds for the men's 50m Pistol event.

Jitu Rai, Prakash Nanjappa and Amanpreet Singh will carry Indian hopes in the event. More than 750 top shooters from 80 nations are set to take part in the Munich World Cup.