New Delhi, Mar 01: Considering that the sport can get soporific at times, the ISSF World Cup has been an exception with a packed crowd witnessing the best shooters locked in intense face-offs.
A good number of seats at the final hall of the Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range would be occupied before the commencement of medal rounds in all the events. So much so, it has left Hungarian shooting great Peter Sidi pleasantly surprised.
“It’s a popular game in India. The range here is in very good shape. This is my second visit to the country and I really like it. I think we should have a World Championship here,” Sidi, a winner of multiple World Championship and World Cup medals, said on the sidelines of the ongoing tournament.
Playing in his first World Cup final, Indian shooter Amanpreet Singh, who lost out on the gold medal to the experienced Jitu Rai in the 50m pistol final today, may have felt nervous seeing the huge turnout for his final.
He was leading for a better part of the final before Rai staged a remarkable comeback to upstage Amanpreet in front of a packed house that wholeheartedly backed its shooters.
“This was my first final and the crowd was big and making lots of noises,” Amanpreet said after the event, indicating that he crumbled under pressure.
The 37-year-old Sidi, who termed the International Shooting Sport Federation’s move to introduce the mixed team events on trial basis in the tournament as “boring”, stressed on the need to make the game more exciting for the crowd.
“This is not a sport and the rules are not proper. Nobody is taking it seriously. This is very boring for spectators. It’s very lengthy.”
Thanks to the performance of the Indian shooters in recent years, save the Rio Olympics, the sport has been able to draw the interest of the government and the corporate houses, and the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) president Raninder Singh had no qualms in admitting it.
“The sport of shooting has come a long way in the country and the ISSF World Cup New Delhi 2017 is certainly yet another inflexion point for the sport in the country. We warmly welcome all visiting athletes, officials and delegates. It is a proud moment for all our countrymen.
“This would not have been possible without the proactive support of the Government, the Ministry of Sports and the Sports Authority of India and I wish to thank all of them for making this happen,” Raninder had said.