Rahi Sarnobat warms up for Tokyo Olympics with World Cup gold

Updated on Jun 28, 2021 09:47 PM IST

Rahi Sarnobat gave a wonderful demonstration of her form as she overcame a tough field to win the 25m pistol gold at the ISSF (Shooting) World Cup in Osijek, Croatia on Monday.

Indian pistol shooter Rahi Sarnobat. (Milind Saurkar/HT Photo)
Indian pistol shooter Rahi Sarnobat. (Milind Saurkar/HT Photo)
ByAvishek Roy

With less than a month to go for the Tokyo Olympics, the seasoned Sarnobat underlined prime form with her second World Cup medal. She won silver in the New Delhi World Cup in March.

Sarnobat shot 39 hits out of 50, including five perfect series (one series of five rapid fire shots), and was quick to break away in the final of eight shooters. So sublime was the Indian’s shooting that she finished eight points ahead of silver medallist Lamolle Mathilde of France, who scored 31. Sarnobat missed the world record (40) by one point. Russia’s Vitalina Batsarashkina won bronze with 28 hits.

Sarnobat began with a bang by striking all five shots on the target. By the 6th series, she had all but sealed the gold, leaving behind Rio Olympics gold medallist Anna Korakaki of Greece and Rio silver medallist (10m air pistol) Batsarashkina.

Also read | Rahi Sarnobat grabs gold at ISSF Shooting World Cup

The Indian shooter missed three hits (score of 10.2 or above) during the second series, but quickly regained her grip with four perfect series in a row. She had done enough to be able to take it easy in the last couple of rounds.

“This is an assurance that I am on the right track for the Olympics and things I have to work on,” said the seasoned shooter.

“This competition was not about medals for me and I was trying out a few things I would like to do in Tokyo. It was more about finalising everything for the Olympics.”

In the two-stage qualification, Sarnobat made the cut at second with an impressive score of 591 (295 in precision, 296 in rapid fire). She was behind Bulgaria’s Antoaneta Kostadinova, who shot 593. Manu Bhaker, who was ninth after the first qualification stage, came good in the rapid fire round, scoring 296 for a total of 588 to comfortably qualify at third place.

For Sarnobat, it was a big improvement from her qualification score of 581 in the New Delhi World Cup.

Also read | Aishwary Tomar makes second final to finish sixth in Men’s 50M Rifle 3 Postions

“I was struggling for my qualification score but I knew this was just a process leading towards the right path. It was just a matter of having enough competitions before the Olympics. We were in a zone and it was difficult for each one of us to keep ourselves in that zone without any competition.

“The pandemic year changed all our plans, our peaking time; everybody had to plan differently. Competitions were cancelled or rescheduled. But we are doing pretty good now despite all that.”

She will be going into her second Olympics, after London 2012. Having fully recovered from injury in her right arm, she returned to action with gold at the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games.

“The Asian Games was a different challenge. As a shooter I was struggling as I was getting back on the range. There I thought I had just started my journey towards the Tokyo Olympics. Today I feel much more experienced, confident and ready,” Sarnobat said.

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