The world shooting body (ISSF) is yet to finalise the format of the mixed team events, but ace Indian pistol shooter Jitu Rai is hardly bothered about it because he feels a marsksman’s job is just to shoot without worrying about other factors.
The International Shooting Sport Federation has included the mixed team events at the ISSF Pistol, Air Rifle and Shotgun World Cup Final to begin here on Monday.
The new mixed gender events in air rifle, air pistol and trap have been included in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Programme. The step follows the guidelines of the IOC Agenda 2020, embracing gender equality in sports.
This year, mixed gender team events were included as test events at two ISSF World Cup Rifle/Pistol stages and at three ISSF World Cup Shotgun stages, but here medals in these events will count.
“We are still coming to terms with the format (of mixed event) because the ISSF is constantly tweaking the rules in search of the best one. But that hardly bothers because my job is to shoot and that is what I can do,” Jitu told reporters at the Karni Singh Shooting Range here on Sunday.
“My job is to prepare and respond according to situations without worrying about other factors,” added the Army marksman, who has won silver in both World Cup and World Championships.
Jitu says his dream is to win a gold in the World Championships.
“I have won gold and silver in World Cup and silver in World Championships but gold has eluded me. So my aim is to win a gold in World Championships now,” he said.
Asked about his own form, Jitu said: “My performance is the same. It has neither improved nor deteriorated. I have managed to maintain it.”
The Indian pair of Jitu and Heena Sidhu have won the Air Pistol Mixed Team title at the ISSF World Cups in Gabala and New Delhi and the duo will spearhead the host nation’s challenge here as well.
Jitu’s partner Heena too aired the same view.
“Mixed events are no different from individual because the basics remain the same,” she said.
“We would need to work more because in mixed events you need a lot of strategy and tactics.”
Meanwhile, as many as nine champions across 15 events from last year’s Rio 2016 Olympic Games are in the fray at the World Cup Final here, besides three former champions.
Two among them — Greece’s 21-year old air pistol champion Anna Korakaki and Germany’s Christian Reitz — are also among the 11 title-defenders who will be seen in action.
Hosts India have a total of 10 competitors across three disciplines including current world number one double trap shooter Ankur Mittal and reigning Asian Games champion and former world number one men’s pistol ace Jitu.
Heena, a former 2013 ISSF WCF winner in the women’s 10m air pistol, will be gunning for an encore, this time in the mixed team air pistol event, partnering Jitu.
Ravi Kumar and Pooja Ghatkar have also qualified in the top draw in men’s and women’s 10m air rifle events respectively.
A total of 162 athletes from 45 ISSF member federations will be competing at the event.
Some top global stars who will be seen in action include three time Olympic Champion and skeet shooting legend Kimberly Rhode of the USA, Vietnam’s first-ever Olympic champion Xuan Vinh Hoang in men’s air pistol, Greece’s 21-year old pistol sensation Anna Korakaki and USA’s 20-year old Virginia Thrasher who won the women’s 10m air rifle gold in Rio on her Olympic debut.