New Delhi, Mar 19 (PTI) Usman Chand, the lone Pakistani shooter to participate in the star-studded ISSF World Cup here, has attracted plenty of attention even before firing his first competition shot.
Chand, a skeet shooter, was spoken to by quite a few scribes after he underwent a practice session on the shotgun range of the Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range.
He will have his first qualifying on the second competition day on Saturday. The marksman, who has been to India a number of times in the past, mostly for business purposes, is hoping to make an impression in the tournament.
'It is always a great feeling to come to India, and I have been to many parts of the country, but of late that has not been the case,' he said of his latest visit from across the border after getting his visa to travel to India.
The 36-year-old Chand had missed the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, but finished a creditable fifth at the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia.
Chand's visit comes two years after two Pakistan shooters were denied visas to travel to India for the World Cup in February 2019, following the Pulwama terror attack, which took place days before the start of the tournament.
For the 2019 tournament that carried Tokyo Olympics quota places, Pakistan had applied for visas for two shooters -- GM Bashir and Khalil Ahmed -- in the 25m rapid fire category.
Following India's refusal to grant visas, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) withdrew qualification status from the rapid fire event of that tournament.
But that was then, and the shooter is now looking to put up a creditable show in the ongoing tournament, having got an opportunity to rub shoulders with some of the best in business from across the world after missing out on the shotgun World Cup in Cairo recently.
Chand's personal-best score of 122 out of 150 came in the 2018 Asian Games. His current world ranking is 108 as per the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF).
Meanwhile, monkeys on the rooftop of the 10m range left those present inside the hall amused, even as the shooters went about their task, taking aim at their respective targets.
Tokyo Olympics quota holders Anjum Moudgil and Divyansh Singh Panwar and Arjun Babuta qualified for the women's and men's 10m air rifle finals respectively on the opening day of the tournament.
A total of 294 athletes from 53 countries, including a 57-member Indian contingent, are competing in the first multi-nation Olympic sporting event of this scale anywhere in the world post the COVID-19 pandemic-forced lockdown. PTI AH AH SSC SSC