Sanjeev Rajput ended India’s Olympic quota drought that has been dragging on for the last three days by qualifying in the men’s 50m three-position rifle category. With that India closed out the Asia Olympic Qualifying Competition with 12 quota places, which is one more than they had won for the 2012 London Games.
Rajput bagged the quota after he finished fourth in the finals on Tuesday, which is also the last day of the competition. He shot a total of 429.5 in the final. But the quota was assured after the first stage of elimination during the standing series, where South Korean duo of Kim Hyeonjun and Kwon Juncheol were ejected.
For Rajput, 35, the scenario was quite clear as three shooters were illegible to earn quota berths for Rio Games. Kazakshtan’s Yuriy Yurkov, Japan’s Toshikazu Yamashita and South Korea’s Kim Jonghyun had already earned the quota places for their countries.
The illegibility of the trio meant, only one of the two Koreans – Hyeonjun and Juncheol -- could have one, which left Rajput, Qatar’s Vitaliy Dovgun and Thailand’s Napis Tortungpanich fighting for three quota places.
Interestingly, Rajput, a past World Cup winner and double Asian Championship medallist, has been struggling coming into this all important competition. His barrel extension was damaged in the run up and he has been struggling ever since to get it fixed.
On Tuesday, he almost let it slip as he logged few very bad scores in the first three series of the kneeling event. He was placed seventh at the end of the 15-shot series and was 2.6 points adrift of Korea’s Juncheol, who was sixth. But a strong rally in the prone series got him back in contention for the medal as well as the quota places.
The comeback was complete after the two rounds of the standing series, after which the two Koreans were ejected. But the medal still got away as he logged a below par score of 7.7, which was the 41st shot in the 45-shot final.
Results: 50m rifle 3 positions men: 1. Kim Jonghyun (KOR), 2. Yuriy Yurkov (KAZ), 3. Toshikazu Yamashita