Nancy blazes to Air Rifle gold with record score

Indian air rifle shooters, the women in particular, were literally on fire on competition day three of the Asian Olympic Qualification Rifle/Pistol in Jakarta

New Delhi, Jan 10 (IANS) Indian air rifle shooters, the women in particular, were literally on fire on competition day three of the Asian Olympic Qualification Rifle/Pistol in Jakarta, picking up medals aplenty with teenage shooter Nancy’s women’s 10m air rifle gold with a finals Asian junior record score of 252.8, being the icing on the cake.

Nancy led an India 1-2 in the event, the third time the senior squad has posted a double podium in this competition, with Olympian Elavenil Valarivan finishing second, an agonising 0.1 behind. China’s Shen Yufan prevented an India sweep of the medals finishing third as Mehuli Ghosh, the third Indian in contention finished fourth.

The trio also won the team gold by a distance over Singapore. Earlier in men’s air rifle, Rudrankksh Patil had clinched bronze in the individual event, with Arjun Babuta finishing sixth in the final. The duo also won the team bronze along with Sri Karthik Sabari Raj Ravishankar.

What the seniors could not do at the Senayan Shooting range, the junior women did, as Isha Taksale (253.1) Khyaty Choudhary (251.2) and Anvii Rathod (227.7), finished 1-2-3 in the 10m air rifle women junior competition. The junior boys also fared better than their senior counterparts as Abhinav Shaw (250.7) and Parth Mane (229.6) won silver and bronze in the junior men’s air rifle individual, as also the team silver in the event alongside Umamahesh Maddineni.

The Air Rifle shooters’ exploits meant India finished day three with a tally of 19 medals including eight gold, six silver and five bronze and were leading the table comfortably ahead of China who have four gold and 10 medals.

In the women’s 10m air rifle, Nancy shot like one possessed throughout the day. The teenager, who first shot into international prominence with a silver at the Baku World Cup last year, shot no less than 10.1 in the 24-shot eight women final, to win her first senior international individual gold.

She was in second place, 0.2 behind Elavenil, after the first five-shot series where both posted impressive scores of 53.2 and 53.4 respectively. Two consecutive 10.9s for the eighth and ninth shots took her to the top after the second and she never looked back.

Ela too shot brilliantly, with two consecutive 10.9s of her own for her third and fourth, but a 9.7 for her 10th, proved to be the difference in the end.

Indian women had also dominated the qualification round, as besides Nancy who qualified second, Ela shot a scorching 633.8 to top the 62-women field. Mehuli qualified third with a 631.0. Ramita and Tilottama Sen, who were shooting for ranking points only (RPO), also posted high scores of 633.6 and 632.8 respectively.

All three Indian finalists then went on to register at least two perfect 10.9s in the final.

The 2022 Baku World Champion Rudrankksh Patil also had a satisfying day overall, as he qualified with a solid 630.4, which gave him third spot. Arjun Babuta was a spot behind with a 629.6.

Here too, the best rounds were shot by two Indian RPO shooters as Sandeep Singh (633.4) and Divyansh Singh Panwar (631.4), outscored the two Indian finalists. The third Indian in medal contention, Sri Karthik, was further down the leaderboard, having shot 625.3.

Arjun was the stronger at the start of the final, shooting a 52.4 for his first five-shot series to lie second. Rudrankksh found himself at the bottom of a tightly bunched group. At the end of 10-shots, Arjun maintained his position with Rudrankksh coming up to sixth and there was amazingly just 0.1 separating each of the top six from each other.

It changed dramatically after that, as local hero and quota winner on the day Fathur Gustafian accounted for Arjun, but Rudrankksh continued to get stronger.

Despite a valiant 10.9 by Gustafian for his 20th, Rudrankksh ensured bronze and went into the 21st 0.6 behind 15-year-old Chinese Ma and 0.7 behind Korean Choe Daehan, who incidentally won the other quota on offer in the match.

The Indian managed to get the difference down to 0.4 after the 21st, but had to settle for third place in the end, with no let-up coming from either Ma or Choe. The Chinese took, closing with a confident 10.8 and a score of 251.4.

The day also witnessed the first day of qualification of the women’s 25m pistol, where India wants to win one of the two available quota places.

Esha Singh was the best Indian at the end of the precision round, shooting 291 to be placed third. Rhythm Sangwan was fifth with 290, while Simranpreet Kaur Brar shot 287 and was 12th among contenders in the 50-strong field.

The finals are slated for Thursday, January 11, 2024 at 9.45am IST, after the completion of the second rapid-fire round, scheduled before that.

–IANS

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