Young Chinese athletes will inspire future shooters at Paris 2024: ISSF president
Entering a new era
Published: Mar 21, 2024 08:08 PM
Participants compete in the women's 10-meter air rifle qualification in the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou on September 24, 2023. Photo: VCG

Participants compete in the women's 10-meter air rifle qualification in the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou on September 24, 2023. Photo: VCG

Chinese markswoman Zhang Mengxue secured the first gold medal for the Chinese delegation at the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics. In Tokyo 2020, it was another shooter, Yang Qian, who won the first gold. Who will carry on the honor of capturing the first gold medal for China in Paris 2024?

China, on Wednesday, announced its men's and women's squad for the pistol and rifle events at the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics after the final national selection competition held in Xi'an, Northwest China's Shaanxi Province.

The 10-meter air rifle Olympic champion Yang Qian was replaced by a cadre of young shooters who have emerged from the recent international competitions. 

During a recent interview with the Global Times, Luciano Rossi, president of the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF), said that the emergence of young Chinese athletes has promoted the global development of the shooting sport.

"It is unfortunate that Yang Qian will not be participating in the Paris Games. The emergence of young talent and the intense domestic competition have highlighted the depth of talent within China's shooting community," said Rossi. 

This bodes well for the sustainability of the sport on the international stage, as it demonstrates the continuous influx of skilled athletes and the resilience of the sport's development, said the president from Italy. 

Luciano Rossi Photo: Courtesy of ISSF

Luciano Rossi Photo: Courtesy of ISSF


Full quota 

The Olympic roster for the national shooting team features a group of young Gen Z shooters with the youngest being 17. 

The women's team is spearheaded by Han Jiayu, 10m air rifle gold medalist at the 2023 ISSF World Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan, and Jiang Ranxin, 10m air pistol gold medalist at the world championships.

Olympic silver medalist Sheng Lihao is joined by Zhang Bowen, 10m air pistol world champion, among others in the men's team. 

The roster is determined through the accumulation of points from international competitions and a series of selection events. 

Wang Lian, a deputy director of the shooting and archery sports management center of the China's General Administration of Sport, said that the recent selections showed that a young generation of shooters has taken over the torch from their predecessors.

"The best athlete comes from competition. The subsequent training will focus on bringing out their best form for the Olympic Games. We will help athletes maintain a positive mentality and stay grounded," Wang said. 

As an event in which China enjoyed traditional advantages at the Olympic Games, shooting has often bagged the first gold for the Chinese delegation at the global multi-sports showpiece. China has obtained full quotas in pistol, rifle, and team events of the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics. 

Rossi holds high expectations for China's performance in Paris. 

"With China securing full quotas for the Paris Games, there is great anticipation for China's performance. I'm confident that Chinese athletes will showcase their skills, determination, and sportsmanship on the world stage, inspiring future generations of shooters," he noted. 

China finished the Baku World Championships on top of the medal table with 15 golds, 7 silvers and 6 bronzes in August 2023. 

"China's outstanding performance at the world championships underscores the nation's significant role in advancing the global development of shooting sports. China's dedication to nurturing talent, investing in training programs, and fostering a culture of excellence has undoubtedly contributed to the sport's growth and popularity worldwide," said Rossi. 

Two world cups in Zhejiang

During his visit to the Hangzhou Asian Games held in East China's Zhejiang Province in September 2023, Rossi was grateful to the city for presenting a spectacular event.

"I hope that China can host other international tournaments," said the ISSF president.

Rossi's wish has since turned into reality. Ningbo and Hangzhou in Zhejiang will host the ISSF World Cup in 2025 and 2026, respectively, according to an announcement made by the shooting governing body on March 2. 

Along with the Olympic shooting events and the world championships, the annual tournament is one of the three elite international shooting competitions and serves as a crucial qualifier for Olympic shooting events.

Ningbo and Hangzhou stand out due to their exceptional infrastructure, passionate sporting communities and unwavering commitment to promoting the spirit of sportsmanship, Rossi said. 

These two cities offer world-class facilities and amenities, ensuring a memorable experience for athletes and spectators alike. ISSF is happy to have the World Cups in these cities, according to the president. 

The 2026 World Cup will be held at Hangzhou's Fuyang Yinhu Sports Center, which hosted the shooting, archery and modern pentathlon of the Hangzhou Asian Games. It's also part of Hangzhou's efforts in leveraging the Asian Games legacy and build itself into a city of international competitions.

Elected as the ISSF president in 2022, Rossi said that "the sport is entering a new era" and he has been committed to modernizing the sport, which has faced the risk of being marginalized. 

The shooting event at the Paris 2024 Olympics will take place in Chateauroux, 300 kilometers from the Olympic city. It will be the first time that the shooting event will take place outside the city hosting the Olympics.

"As we enter a new era in the shooting sport, my vision is to modernize the sport while preserving its core values of discipline, integrity and inclusivity. This entails embracing innovation, technology, and optimized competition formats to enhance the athlete experience and attract young audiences," said Rossi. 

"My plan includes collaborating with stakeholders, investing in grassroots initiatives, and leveraging digital platforms to broaden the sport's reach and relevance in today's dynamic world," he said.