ISSF World Cup: Reigning world champion Rudrankksh Patil wins bronze in men's 10m air rifle, China extend golden run
The Indian world champion was up against a strong Chinese challenge but managed to hold his own for a bronze in 10m air rifle
Moments after he had fired his last competition shot of the day that confirmed a second World Cup medal for him in as many days, Rudrankksh Balasaheb Patil reached for the left side of his chest and tapped it gently. From a distance, it appeared a rather dramatic turn in a shooter's silent soliloquy, but as Patil would reveal later, he was simply checking whether his violently throbbing heart was still in its place. It was that kind of a contest.
"We don't have heart rate monitors here but I am sure my heart rate was 200 bps. I actually wanted to check if it has popped out," the 19-year-old joked after another successful day in the 10m air rifle range at the Madhya Pradesh Shooting Academy in Bhopal on Friday. The reigning world champion was tested to his limits by the Chinese trio of Lihao Sheng, Lu Dinshu, and Yu Haonan who appeared set to make it an all-China podium before Patil's late charge ensured a third-place finish for the Indian who won gold at last month's World Cup in Cairo.
Patil made it to the eight-man ranking round on the back of a fourth-place finish in the qualifying round where he shot a commendable 631. Tokyo silver medallist Sheng led the 35-man pack at that stage with a score of 635.4 followed by compatriot Dinshu (631.4) and Czech Republic's Jiri Privratsky (631.3). The other Indian in the fray, Hriday Hazarika, also made it to the next round with 630.4.
The ranking round was a volatile affair with both Indians starting slow before clawing their way back. Both the Indian boys were part of Thursday's mixed team events where Patil partnered R Narmada Nithin for bronze while the pair of Hazarika and Tilottama Sen finished ninth. Competing just 24 hours later was a test of their physical reserves while the pressure of the high-quality field also played its part.
"The mixed team event yesterday (Thursday) was a great result but it took a lot of energy out of me. I had similar issues at the World Championships and Changwon World Cup last year so I was prepared for such a scenario. I began well in the qualification round but began to tire towards the end," said Patil who had sessions with a physiotherapist and psychologist ahead of his pet event.
In the 25-shot top-eight ranking round, Patil was well outside the medal positions till the third five-shot series, before he unlocked a fantastic fourth series where he shot the highest score of 53.5. Still, the Chinese looked set to sweep the podium with Patil on their tail, 0.8 behind Yu Haonan. A strong 52.6 in the final series pushed the Indian to third place as Yu logged 51.5 to finish fourth. Overall, Patil shot 262.3 in the ranking round, behind Sheng's 264.2 and Linshu's 263.3.
The fact that Patil shot less than 10 only once in 25 attempts and nailed 10.5 or more in 18 of the 24 shots speaks not just of his quality but that of the field too. Hazarika finished sixth with 208.7.
"It was a tough match. The pressure almost got too much to handle for me. My hands shook, my heart rate kept jumping, and my muscles tensed. We have shot back-to-back matches in national trials too but there is no pressure and the body reacts a lot differently. Here, both mind and body played tricks. It was the most energetic final I have played," he said.
The all-China gold medal encounter was also a close match with Sheng capping his start-to-finish lead with a 17-13 win.
In the women's field, Ramita was the lone Indian in the eight-shooter ranking round after a strong 632.3 placed her second in the 52-strong qualification stage, behind China's World Championships silver medallist Yuting Hunag who shot 632.8.
Hunag maintained her lead in the ranking round and set up the gold medal match with Tokyo Olympics silver medallist from USA Mary Carolynn Tucker which she won 16-4.
Friday's results consolidated China's position at the top eight medals (5 gold, 1 silver, 2 bronze) followed by India who have a gold and a silver to go with three bronze medals.