Bhopal, Mar 20 (IANS): Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh, is all set for a grand opening ceremony of the historic Shooting World Cup stage, the first ever to be held in India outside the national capital of New Delhi.
Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Hon. Chief Minister, Madhya Pradesh, will be the Chief Guest at the ceremony, to be held at the Kushabhau Thakre International Convention Centre. Luciano Rossi, President, International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF), who reached the city earlier in the day, will be the Guest of Honour. Also present will be Yashodhara Raje Scindia, Hon. Minister for Sports and Youth Welfare, Government of Madhya Pradesh and Raninder Singh, President, National Rifle Association of India (NRAI). The Hon. Chief Minister will virtually inaugurate the brand-new Finals Hall of the M.P. State Shooting Academy range, the venue of the ISSF World Cup Rifle/Pistol Bhopal.
Speaking ahead of the historic occasion, Singh said, "It is indeed a historic occasion for the country. The range in Bhopal is truly world-class and I must commend the leadership of the Hon. Chief Minister as well as the effort put in by the Hon. Minister for Sports and her entire team for making this day a reality. For the sport to grow further in the country, it was important that international events such as these were taken to different parts and Bhopal has shown the way. We look forward to a memorable world cup.""
Besides the inauguration of the Finals Hall, the opening ceremony will also witness the oath-taking ceremony as well as a performance of Mallakhamb, an indigenous martial art sport which is gaining popularity by the day. The Hon. Chief Minister will then host a dinner in honour of the ISSF President and his wife Laura Rossi.
Close to 200 shooters from 30 countries will be taking part in the ISSF World Cup Rifle/Pistol Bhopal. Prominent names taking part will be the likes of Jean Quiquampoix, the reigning Olympic champion in the men's 25m Rapid Fire Pistol, Rio Olympic champion in the event Christian Reitz of Germany and reigning women's air rifle world champion Alison Marie Weisz of the USA among others. India's owned reigning world champion in the men's 10m Air Rifle, Rudrankksh Patil, will also be seen in action as will the two reigning Air Pistol world champions, Liu Jinyao and Lu Kaiman of China, the NRAI informed in a release on Monday.
Unofficial practice at the M.P. Shooting Academy range was on full steam with countries like the USA, China, Germany, Denmark, Maldives, Mexico, Chinese Taipei, Romania, Denmark and Saudi Arabia besides India, all testing the ranges on the day. Competitions begin on March 22, with the men's and women's 10m Air Pistol finals scheduled on the very first day.
Indian and China have fielded the largest contingents with both entering 37-shooters respectively. For India, 22 shooters will be vying for medals while the others will be playing for ranking points only.
The ISSF World Cup Rifle/Pistol Bhopal will see a total of 10 finals, all Olympic events, over five consecutive competition days.