Indian shooter Heena Sidhu failed to qualify for the final of women's 10m air pistol(Burhaan Kinu/HT PHOTO)
Indian shooter Heena Sidhu failed to qualify for the final of women's 10m air pistol(Burhaan Kinu/HT PHOTO)

ISSF World Cup: Indian shooters lose big at home

World Cup hosts bag just one Tokyo Olympic Games quota out of available 12.
By Navneet Singh | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON FEB 26, 2019 10:54 PM IST

There was a sinking feeling in the Indian camp as events offering Tokyo Olympics quota places came to an end at the ISSF World Cup here on Tuesday. India could win only one of the 12 quota places on offer from the tournament. Expectations were high from shooters to fire at home and book Tokyo berths. Now they will have to compete in the remaining two World Cups and continental events to win quotas.

On Tuesday, Manu Bhaker and seasoned Heena Sidhu failed to qualify in 10m air pistol, drawing curtains on a disappointing campaign. After the organisers managed to save the tournament’s ‘Olympic qualifying status’ following denial of visas to Pakistan players, there was relief and shooters were expected to come out firing .

Rifle shooter Apurvi Chandela, who had already won a Tokyo Games quota from the World Championships, gave a rousing start by winning gold in women’s 10m air rifle.

Teen sensation Saurabh Chaudhary carried forward the momentum, claiming gold and a Tokyo Olympics quota place in 10m air pistol with a world record score (245).

But the challenge fizzled out thereafter. Only four Indians could make it to the finals in eight events, six of them were offering Olympic berths.

On Tuesday, there was huge expectation from ace pistol shooter Heena Sidhu and young Manu Bhaker when the duo lined up for the qualification round in women’s 10m air pistol.

Going by the recent performances of Heena and Manu, the Indian camp was hopeful of at least one quota place. But at the end of the 75-minute contest, it turned out to be a damp squib.

Heena scored 571, while Manu shot 573 to miss out on a final berth. Manu finished 14th and Heena 25th. Incidentally, both shooters have regularly shot 575 and above. The rhird Indian in the fray — Anuradha — too faltered. Her best on the day was 571. Iran’s Mina Ghorbani was the eighth and last competitor to enter the final with a total of 574. “Some bad shots hampered my progress. Also, I should have managed my time better,” said Heena.

She had a poor start, scoring two 8s and one 9 in the first series of 10-shot. Though Heena had better scores in the second series, she wasn’t able to stay in the zone for long. Heena claimed that “too much training’’ was one of the reasons for the poor show. “I badly wanted to win the quota. It weighed too much on my mind,’’ she said.

Women’s 25m sports pistol too was considered a strong event. Jakarta Asian Games champion Rahi Sarnobat and 16-year old Manu were among the contenders. While Rahi failed to recreate her Asian Games form, Manu had a roaring start, finishing second in qualification. She, however, faded away to finish fifth in the final. Pistol coach Pavel Smirnov said the shooters had good scores in the preparatory camp. ‘’We will review the situation. Maybe, they were bogged down by mental pressure,’’ he said.

In men’s 25m rapid fire pistol, teenager Anish Bhanwala reached the final, but he too finished fifth in a competitive field that included Germany’s Rio Olympic champion Christian Reitz. There was also disappointment at the 50m range as seasoned rifle shooters like Sanjeev Rajput and Tejaswini Sawant failed to inspire others.

In 10m air rifle, Jakarta Asian Games silver medallist Deepak Kumar was aiming for a podium finish. But he failed miserably, scoring 624 in qualification which was way below his personal best of 630 shot during the 2018 World Championships at Changwon. “Injury in the right leg was the main reason for below par score. Three days before the World Cup he had cramps,’’ said his coach Manoj Kumar,

Air rifle shooter Ravi Kumar couldn’t progress to final due to lack of form. The coach added, ‘’He too was recovering from an injury suffered last year in November.’’

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