2024 Paris Olympic Games, Shooting Selection: NRAI To Conduct Four Trials In May; Not In Favour Of Bonus Points

The National Rifle Association of India's technical committee is likely to finalise the 2024 Paris Olympics selection criteria in the next couple of days for all shooting disciplines

File image of Indian shooter Esha Singh competing in the Asian Games 2023.

The National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) will conduct four trials in May next year to select the contingent for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games  with the federation giving a strong indication that it will do away with the system that allowed shooters to enter the selection competition with bonus points accrued through big-ticket events such as World Cups and World Championships. (Sports News)

However, shooters with Olympic quotas are likely to have a one-point advantage over others as is the case with the shotgun shooters.

The NRAI technical committee is likely to finalise the Olympic selection criteria in the next couple of days for all shooting disciplines. 

It recently amended the Olympic Games criteria for shotgun event.

According to the new criteria, released on October 22, "All quota winners, irrespective of their ranking in Finals in Quota competitions (such as the World Championships and Asian Championships), will be awarded one bonus point. It will be added to the points accumulated from the Olympic Games Selection Trials (to be held in May)."

NRAI secretary Rajiv Bhatia confirmed that changes in the Olympic selection criteria were "under consideration" of the technical committee.

"Before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, there was too much padding of points. And, based on form before Tokyo, shooters who were nowhere close to their best still competed at the Games based on the points they had aggregated (in domestic trials, international competitions like the World Cups, etc).

"Some shooters were ahead by 5-6 points because of this padding and we couldn't do anything as they had the numbers against fellow competitors. So, we are thinking that we should have one realistic performance of the shooter in the present case (Olympic trials).

"The matter is with the technical committee and it will decide and publish it. We have made it clear that only one bonus point will be given to those who have bagged quota places for the country," he added.

A source in the know of things said that it's likely that the technical committee will "start the Olympic trials with a clean slate" for the five best shooters in each category based on their performance over the last two years.

"Those who have earned quota place and four other top-ranked shooters based on their scores over two years will appear for Olympic trials," said the source.

Olympian Joydeep Karmakar, who has prepared the blueprint for Olympic team selection during his tenure as national 50m rifle coach, told PTI, "The top-five shooters in each category have to be selected for the four Olympic trials. Earlier the trials were in February 2024, now the timing has been changed to May, that's not a problem."

"As per the criteria, five shooters in each category will give four trials and the top three scores will be considered. One bonus point will be added to the Olympic quota winners' scores," said Karmakar, who missed bronze by a whisker at the 2012 London Olympics in 50m rifle prone event.

"But how NRAI adds that one bonus point in the trials makes a lot of difference. If (NRAI) add one bonus point to each of the three Olympic trials' Final Average Score (FAS), it will give three additional points to the shooters who have bagged Olympic quotas.

"But if you add one point to the aggregate of the three scores in trials, it's one bonus point, or 0.33 per trial. I'm not sure what changes are they planning," he added.

Another source added that it's unlikely the NRAI will give one bonus point for each trial.

"It is a crucial issue and the technical committee is deliberating over it. In a sport, where scores are calculated in decimals, one bonus points on aggregate makes sense, but not three bonus points for three trials," said the source.

"That would give a massive advantage to those who have earned quota places for the country and put the other four shooters at a disadvantage," said the source.

The father of an Olympic-quota place winner said if the NRAI is planning to take away all the bonus points accrued in previous competitions, then what is the incentive to win an Olympic quota.

"I have seen the shotgun policy, giving just one bonus point to the Olympic quota winners. The last time around the 2020 Tokyo Olympics quota winners got four bonus points over and above the points earned in trials, World Cups and other competitions.

"What they are doing now is a negative move by giving just one bonus point. My child has brought a quota place for the country still have to appear for trials," said the father on condition of anonymity.

"It's not a small achievement to bag quota for country. If children have to compete in trials then when will they focus on Olympic preparations?" he questioned.