India’s Arjun Babuta won his first International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup stage gold, beating Tokyo Olympics silver medallist Lucas Kozeniesky of the USA 17-9 in the gold medal match early on Monday morning in Changwon.

Arjun had qualified second to make it to the top eight ranking round on Sunday, along with compatriot Paarth Makhija who had qualified in fifth place. The Chandigarh lad carried on his good form on Monday, topping the ranking round with a scintillating 261.1 to storm into the gold medal encounter.

Kozeniesky shot 260.4 to join him even as qualification leader Sergey Richter of Israel won bronze with a score of 259.9. Paarth had to be happy with fourth-place finish with 258.1.

There was no stopping Arjun in the final as he raced to a 10-4 lead after the first seven single-shot series. The winner of each series gets two points while the points are spilt in case of a tie and the first to 16 wins the match.

The American did not give up till the end but Arjun pulled out those big high 10s when it mattered most and finished clinically for a convincing 17-9 scoreline to help India open their account with a gold medal.

This was also national rifle coach Thomas Farnik’s first medal on his very first international assignment. The Austrian had been appointed to the job just ahead of the Changwon ISSF World Cup.

The individual air pistol and trap finals are scheduled for Tuesday with qualifications taking place on Monday.

In the women’s individual air pistol event, India’s Yuvika Tomar was the only Indian to qualify for the final finishing seventh with a score of 576. Palak (573) and Rhythm Sangwan (573) finished 10th and 11th respectively. Shooting for ranking points, Manu Bhaker (573) and Esha Singh (570) finished in 13th and 17th places respectively.

In the men’s individual air pistol event, all three Indians in fray qualified for the final on Tuesday. Naveen shot 587 to qualify second while Sagar Dangi (582) and Shiva Narwal (580) qualified in sixth and eighth places respectively.

India have fielded a 32-strong squad in the Changwon World Cup which has more than 430 athletes from 44 nations competing. The World Cup ends on July 21st with 30 gold medals on the roster.