Shooter Ronjan Sodhi confident of getting hardship quota

June 24th, 2008 - 6:53 pm ICT by IANS  

By Abhishek Roy
New Delhi, June 24 (IANS) Shooter Ronjan Sodhi is confident that his last week’s World Cup performance in Belgrade, where he equalled two world records, will get him a ‘hardship quota’ for the Beijing Olympics. All the Olympic qualifying events are over and the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) has already distributed the 29 wild cards for the Beijing Games. Sodhi’s only hope is the ‘hardship quota’, which is given to one shooter each from the five continents.

However, it is not easy to get the ‘hardship quota’ as it is given to only countries from which no shooter has qualified. With nine qualifiers for the Beijing Games from India, Sodhi’s chances are slim, but he qualifies under the category of an “outstanding performer.”

“There is still a chance for me as the ‘hardship quota’ is offered to a shooter who has been performing consistently well over a period of time. I fit the bill, having equalled two world records that remained untouched for nine years,” said Sodhi.

“I certainly feel that the ISSF will consider India’s application and I get to go to Beijing,” he added.

National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) secretary Baljeet Singh Sethi said the association had applied for the hardship quota at the Beijing World Cup last month and hoped that by next week the ISSF would decide whether Sodhi qualifies or not for the quota.

“Sodhi has been performing extremely well over the last few months. At the qualifying events he missed the quotas by a whisker. I am confident that the world body will take into consideration his consistent performance,” said Sethi.

The 28-year-old Sodhi, who has been sponsored by the Mittal Champions Trust, had shot world-record-equalling194 out of 200 in Belgrade, after having equalled the preliminary phase world record of 147 out of 150. Daniele Di Spigno of Italy had set the record at the World Championship final at Tampere in 1999.

Sodhi has shown tremendous form while shooting 145 out of 150 in the earlier World Cup at Kerrville in the US, where he finished fifth. In the Asian Championship, which was the last qualifying event, in December he finished ninth. He had also won a bronze in the World Cup in Santo Domingo in 2007 with 187 out of 200.

“Last year I missed the Olympic quotas by slim margins. In the shot gun World Cup in Lonato, Italy, I finished fourth while the quota went to the shooter who finished third,” said Sodhi.

Asked about his chances at the Olympics if he gets a ‘hardship quota’, Sodhi said: ” The Beijing field will have shooters, whom I had defeated to win the gold. So I don’t see any reason, why I can’t do it again.”

The Punjab shooter also said he had always performed well under pressure. “I finished fifth at Kerrville and that heightened the expectations. And in Belgrade, I was under pressure and that helped me to win the gold,” he said.

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