Rahi wins gold and Olympic quota, Saurabh betters own world marks
Rahi Sarnobat won gold and an Olympic berth in women’s 25m pistol while Saurabh Chaudhary gave another sensational performance with gold and world record.Updated: May 28, 2019 09:04 IST
Two gold medals, a world record, and a 2020 Tokyo Olympics quota place—Indian shooters fired big on the second day of the ISSF World Cup in Munich on Monday.
Rahi Sarnobat won gold and an Olympic berth in women’s 25m pistol while Saurabh Chaudhary gave another sensational performance with gold and world record, scoring 246.3 in the 10m air pistol final to better his mark of 245 set in the New Delhi World Cup. Chaudhary and Abhishek Verma have already won the two available Olympic berths for the country. Apurvi Chandela had won the 10m air rifle gold on Sunday.
However, there was also disappointment for India on Monday. Manu Bhaker looked good to book a second Olympic quota in 25m pistol but her weapon malfunctioned twice in the seventh series of the final, reducing the 17-year-old to tears as she was eliminated while leading. Only one malfunction is allowed, and after Bhaker’s pistol was checked by a range officer, she was given two shots. Unfortunately, a second malfunction happened and Bhaker could not fire. She was eliminated in fifth place.
Till then Bhaker was on top of her game, scoring a perfect five in the first of the 10 series of five shots in the final. Bhaker held the lead, and going into the seventh series, was joint first with Sarnobat and Olena Kostevych of Ukraine, all on 21 points. The teenager broke down as she took her seat.
The onus was now on Sarnobat, who started with three hits in the first series and gradually stepped up to gold contention and Olympic quota. The Asian Games champion kept her calm, scoring five out of five in the 8th and 9th series. With the last series to go, Sarnobat was on 34 points to Kostevych’s 33. When Sarnobat missed the second shot, she and Olena were tied at 35. The Indian shooter found the target in the next two shots to lead by one point (37 to Kostevych’s 36). With both missing the last shot, Sarnobat was assured of victory. It was India’s sixth quota spot for the Tokyo Games.
Bulgaria’s Antoaneta Boneva won bronze with a score of 26. The second available quota went to Bulgaria as Kostevych and Germany’s fourth-placed Doreen Vennekamp had already bagged quotas. Bhaker had stood a good chance to win a second Olympic qualification berth.
Earlier, Bhaker fought her way in the second stage (rapid fire) qualification. She was lying 24th after the precision round on day one with a score of 289. But she fired a solid 296 in the second stage to make the cut for the eight-shooter final. Sarnobat was steady from the first qualification round and was placed second with a score of 294. She scored 292 in the rapid fire round for a total of 586 to finish fourth in qualification, a spot ahead of Bhaker, in a strong field of 105 shooters.
It was the second ISSF World Cup gold in Sarnobat’s career. She had won the first at Changwon in 2013. The 28-year-old from Kolhapur, Maharashtra, who had won gold in the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, revived her career after an elbow injury had sidelined her for almost two years. Last year, she made a stunning comeback, becoming the first Indian woman to win gold at the Asian Games. She has been training under German two-time Olympic medallist Munkhbayar Dorjsuren, who has helped her improve her technique .
Chaudhary’s world record
Saurabh Chaudhary was in a zone of his own. It was his second World Cup, and like the one at home, the teenager dominated the field. The 17-year-old qualified at second place with a score of 586, behind world championship silver medallist Artem Chernousov of Russia (589). India’s other entry, Shahzar Rizvi, also made the cut, finishing fifth in qualification (583).
In the 24-shot final, Chaudhary fired with remarkable consistency. He had only six 9s and scored 10.5 and above 10 times. After the first five shots, he was second (51) with Chernousov ahead by 0.6 points. He grabbed the lead in the next set of five shots and never looked back, finishing ahead of the Russian by three points. Once he put his pistol down, the board flashed 246.3. He had shattered his own senior and junior world records.
In Delhi too, Chaudhary had shot with the same intensity, winning gold, Olympic quota and a world record. His junior world record stood at 245.5, which he achieved at ISSF World Championships in Changwon. Rizvi finished fifth with a score of 177.6.