India ended their campaign at the International Shooting Sport Federation World Cup Rifle/Pistol/Shotgun in Baku, Azerbaijan, with a gold in the 50m Rifle 3 Positions (3P) Mixed Team competition after Swapnil Kusale and Ashi Chouksey beat Ukranians Serhiy Kulish and Daria Tykhova 16-12, in the gold medal match on Saturday.
This was India’s second gold of the campaign after the Women’s Air Rifle team had won one earlier. India also has three silvers from the tournament and stood second on the medals tally to Korea after the Mixed 3P final.
It was also Swapnil Kusale’s first gold and third medal overall in the Baku World Cup, after he had won silvers in both the Men’s 3P individual and Men’s Team competitions.
It was a hard-fought win in the end for the pair of Swapnil and Ashi. In the first qualification stage played early on the day, they finished fourth with a combined score of 881/900 to qualify for stage two among 31 teams. The Ukranian pair finished second to also march into the top eight stage.
Then in stage two, Swapnil and Ashy finished second with an effort of 583/600. It was the same score as the Ukranians but the latter topped on countback, going into the gold medal match with a mental edge over the Indians.
In the final also, Ukraine started stronger and opened up a 6-2 lead after the first four single-shot series. But the Indian pair fought back admirably, winning six of the next eight series to go ahead 14-10. Serhiy and Daria were not ones to give up and narrowed the deficit down to 14-12 but the Indians closed out professionally for a well-earned victory.
This was India’s second ISSF Rifle/Pistol World Cup of the year. They had topped the first World Cup stage in Cairo in the beginning of the year and then both the Rifle and Pistol teams opted out of the Rio World Cup in April.
At Baku, only a 12-member Rifle squad participated. The Shotgun squad have also participated in two World Cup stages winning medals in each of them. All three squads are entered to participate in the fourth and final Changwon World Cup stage next month, before the big one- the World Championships garner their attention come September/October.