Rio de Janeiro: Asian Games medallist Abhishek Verma won the gold while teen sensation Saurabh Chaudhary claimed the bronze as Indian shooters dominated the podium in the men’s 10m air pistol event of the ongoing ISSF World Cup here.
Verma, a part-time lawyer, shot 244.2 in the eight-man final on Thursday, while the 17-year-old Chaudhary’s 221.9 was good enough to get him the bronze after five gold medals this year. The silver medal went to Turkey’s Ismail Keles, who aggregated 243.1 in the season’s fourth ISSF World Cup for rifle and pistol shooters.
India is now placed at the top of the medals tally with two gold, one silver and a bronze. India has already exhausted the maximum Olympic quotas available per country in this event, with both Verma and Chaudhary securing the sports in the previous qualifying events.
In the qualification round on Thursday, Chaudhary was fourth with 584 points and Verma entered the finals in fifth position with 582 points, while Gaurav Rana was 44th with 571. The young Elavenil Valarivan opened India’s account with a gold in the women’s 10m air rifle event on Wednesday.
Sanjeev Rajput then claimed a silver in the men’s 50m rifle 3 positions final to secure an Olympic quota for India. Verma, who won bronze in the Jakarta Asiad last year, and Chaudhary ended the second day of competitions on a high note for India.
For a change, Chaudhary had to settle for a bronze this time – his sixth ISSF World Cup medal of the year. He had earlier won a phenomenal five golds. The signs were there early when Verma and Chaudhary, who have now won all the four ISSF World Cup gold medals on offer this year between them, shot scores of 584 and 582 to qualify for the final.
Just one and three points separated the duo from the top qualifying score of 585 posted by Ukranian veteran Oleh Omelchuk. Chaudhary was comparatively subdued in the final, but it was the Asian Games bronze-medallist Verma, who looked in his elements.
In a top quality final field, featuring the likes of former Olympic and World Champion Pang Wei of China, besides multiple World Cup and World Championship medallists like Omelchuk, Serbian Damir Mikec and Turkish Yusuf Dikec, Verma was placed second till the first series of five shots.
He went into the lead from the 12th shot, which is also the first elimination shot of the 24-shot final and never looked back from there, fending of the challenge of Ismail Keles of Turkey with a sublime 10.7 for his final shot to settle the issue.
A 9.6 for his 23rd shot helped the Turk go into the final shot just 0.1 behind, but his hopes were dashed by Verma’s finish. Keles managed only a 9.7 to finish with 243.1, a clear 1.1 behind the Indian. Chaudhary, despite his best efforts, won a bronze with a score of 221.9.
Earlier in the day, Chinki Yadav came close to making it to the finals, finishing just a point behind the final qualifying mark in the women’s 25m Pistol event. She shot a 294 in the Rapid Fire round, ending up with a solid 584 to claim 10th spot.
Switzerland’s Heidi Gerber, who bagged the eighth and final qualifying spot, shot 585 even as Hungary’s Veronika Major claimed her third ISSF World Cup gold of the year in the event. Annu Raj Singh, making a comeback to the Indian team, shot 579 to end in 25th spot while Abhidnya Ashok Patil shot 572 to finish 53rd.
Among other Indian competitors on the day, Chain Singh and Parul Kumar, in the men’s 50m Rifle 3 Positions, shot 1161 and 1148 to finish 49th and 57th respectively while Gaurav Rana, in the men’s 10m Air Pistol, shot 571 to claim the 44th spot.
Indian shooters in the non-competition Minimum Qualification Score (MQS) section also had a great day. In the women’s 25m Pistol, Rahi Sarnobat and Manu Bhaker, both of whom have won Tokyo quotas for India, shot solid rounds of 580 and 583 in MQS, respectively. Swapnil Kusale and Aishwary Singh Tomar, shooting in the MQS section of the men’s 50m Rifle 3 Positions, shot rounds of 1166 and 1165, respectively.