On a day when pistol shooters Jitu Rai and Heena Sidhu brought some cheer to the Indian camp by winning Mixed Team Event in the ISSF World Cup at the Karni Singh Ranges in New Delhi, a short-circuit caused a delay of about 30 minutes in the commencement of the 10m Air Pistol Finals.
The lights at the Finals Range went off for nearly 30 minutes. The National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) claimed that, “the Mixed Team Air Pistol Final was originally scheduled to begin at 11.00 am and it finally began at 11.45 am, which is a delay of no more than 45 mins.”
The NRAI defended itself saying, “A technical fault led to the outage and that can happen anywhere and has happened in earlier World Cups held outside the country as well.”
However, Jitu Rai and Heena Sidhu overcame the setback and emerged winners in the Mixed Team Event. Jitu, the 11 Gorkha Rifles shooter -- the only shooter to clinch gold at the 2014 Asian Games at Incheon and winner of the World Championship silver besides several World Cup medals -- teamed up with Heena Sidhu to clinch the top spot, finishing ahead of Japan’s Yukari Konishi and Tomoyuki Matsuda 5-3. Slovenia’s Naphaswan Yangpaiboon and Kevin Venta finished third.
The Indians were trailing in the last-four stage but came back strongly to finally clinch the ‘golden badge’.
On how it felt to be competing in her maiden Mixed Team Event, Sidhu said that it was an interesting concept, adding that it would take some time for the shooting community to “settle down” into the new format.
World Championship silver-medallist, Jitu Rai, said coordination was a slight issue, though things will be far better once the rules are clearer.
Mixed shooting, a debut event
Mixed Team Event is making its debut in the opening World Cup of the season and medals are not being awarded even though the International Shooting Sports Federation (ISSF) executive committee has ratified the recommendations. Once the International Olympic Committee (IOC) gives its approval to the ISSF’s recommendations, the event will become ‘official’.
The recommendation to include ‘mixed gender events’ was given by the Abhinav Bindra-led ISSF Athletes Committee and the world governing body soon ratified the proposal.