Wednesday turned out to be most profitable day for India at the Karni Singh Shooting Ranges, with pistol shooters Jitu Rai and Amanpreet Singh winning gold and silver, respectively in men’s 50m free pistol at the ISSF Shooting World Cup. It was India’s first gold in the competition.
Jitu’s winning score of 230.1 was a world record, while Amanpreet shot 226.9 to win silver. The bronze went to Vahid Golkhandan of Iran, who shot 208.0.
The Indian duo got the desired start in the event. Amanpreet dominated the field in qualification, shooting 561 to lead the field, while Jitu was placed second with 559. Another Indian, Gurpal Singh, shot 549 to finish 12th.
For Amanpreet, it was so near yet so far. After the first 10 shots in the finals, he was leading with 98.9 points, 4.1 points ahead of Japan’s Tomoyuki Matsuda who had clinched air pistol gold on Tuesday. Jitu was placed fifth.
The next five shots changed the complexion of the finals, with Matsuda facing elimination and Jitu moving to third place. Amanpreet was still in the lead. Thereafter, Amanpreet started to wilt and his shots began landing outside the 10-point zone, while Jitu found his rhythm.
After 20 shots, it became clear the fight for gold will be between Amanpreet and Jitu. The Army shooter, however, proved to be mentally stronger, while Amanpreet faltered.
The Punjab shooter, though, was happy, having won his maiden World Cup medal. “I have participated in 20 World Cups but never entered the finals. It was a big occasion for me to enter the finals and win a medal,’’ he said, adding, “I lost focus in the closing stages, which cost me gold. I was okay till the halfway mark, but then wasn’t able to control my anxiety,” he said.
Amanpreet said his not-so-encouraging performance in air pistol -- he scored just 572 -- motivated him to do well in 50m free pistol. “I made effort to stay focused… that improved my performance. But the final was a bit disappointing.”
On the other hand, Jitu had better match temperament. “Since I always aim for a perfect shot, it helps me avoid negative thoughts that creep in after a bad shot. Even if I am at the bottom of the points tally, I try to stay upbeat,” said Jitu.
Jitu Rai tussi great ho 😱😃 Dher saari badhaiyan aapke suvarna padak ke liye! Congratulations to Amanpreet for Silver! #ISSFWCDelhi— Vinesh Phogat (@phogat_vinesh) March 1, 2017
In women’s 25m sports pistol, Thai shooter Yangpaiboon Naphaswan won gold. She was a cut above the rest from the word go. Her winning score was 38 points. China’s Jingling Zhang took silver with 30 points, while the bronze went to Germany’s Michelle Skeries who scored 27.
China’s Lin Yuemei, winner of 10m air pistol gold, failed to repeat her performance in sports pistol. She finished overall seventh. It was also a disappointing day for Rio Olympic bronze-medallist Heidi Diethelm Gerber of Switzerland. With 23 points she finished fourth.
In the qualification round, top Indian shooters failed to make the cut, with 15-year-old Muskan Muskan finishing 12th and Surabhi Pathak and Rahi Sarnobat ending up further down the points tally.
Indian shooters also failed to enter the final of women’s skeet. Rashmee Rathore shot 66 in qualification, while Aarti Singh Rao scored 63. Sanya Sheikh could manage only 60. The title went to Kimberly Rhode of the US. She shot 56 in the finals to set a world record. Thailand ‘s Sutiya Jiewchaloemmit shot 51 to win silver, while Chloe Tipple of New Zealand won the bronze with 42.