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Mission London

THE continent’s cream of shooters will have the single aim of winning Olympic quota places in mind at the 12th Asian Championships, which will start at the Losail Shooting Complex on Wednesday.

The 12-day event will witness the participation of more than 700 shooters from 30 countries in 14 categories. The competition assumes great significance as 35 quota places for the London Olympics will be allotted at it.

The Qatar Shooting and Archery Association (QSAA) is all geared up. The shooters all arrived last week and have been making use of the state-of-the-art training facilities at the complex.

The continental event comes close on the heels of the Arab Games and the organisers are leaving no stone unturned to make it a grand success.

“Everything is in place for the event to begin. The QSAA had proved its ability to host big events many times in the past and it’s another opportunity to underline our credentials as capable hosts,” QSAA President Mohammed bin Ali Al Ghanim Al Maadeed told Doha Stadium Plus.

Shooters were the cynosure of all eyes at last month’s Arab Games when they topped Qatar’s tally with 23 medals. Qatar Olympic Committee Secretary General Sheikh Saoud bin Abdulrahman, who was also the chairman of the Arab Games Organising Committee, had promptly acknowledged their good work and named QSAA its golden federation.

Al Maadeed, however, knows well repeating that success at the Asian Championships will be easier said than done.

“We may’ve done well at the Arab Games, warding off a strong challenge from Kuwait and the UAE. But the Asian Championships will be a lot tougher for our shooters as the competition level will be high. Countries like India, China and South Korea are strong. However, the Arab Games helped our shooters get some serious practice ahead of the big event. We hope they’ll keep up the good work,” he said.

The QSAA chief added quota places would be more important than individual medals.

“Individual medals will be welcome, but quota places are more important,” said Al Maadeed.