Reigning world champion Rudrankksh Balasaheb Patil won gold in the 10m air rifle men’s event, at the prestigious season-ending International Shooting Sport Federation President’s Cup. The Thane youngster, two weeks shy of his 19th birthday, beat familiar Italian foe and world number one Danilo Solazzo 16-8 in the gold medal match in Cairo, Egypt.
Rudrankksh had beaten the 19-year-old Italian in the World Championship final as well, earlier in October this year. The Indian thus became the recipient of the Golden Target award, given to the best athlete of the year in the event.
The Indian had qualified for the top eight ranking round with a brilliant 632.1, which gave him third place in the 14-athlete field. He then topped his four-shooter ranking round with a score of 211.7, which was a huge 2.8 points ahead of Hungary’s former world number one Istvan Peni, who finished second. Both of them qualified for the semi-finals. Austria’s Martin Strempfl who had topped qualification and Croatian legend Petar Gorsa were the others left behind by the duo.
Rudrankksh’s next challenge was Tokyo Olympics finalist Patrik Jany of Slovakia, whom he beat 16-10 to setup the title clash with Danilo.
Continuing with his sensational shooting form, Rudrankksh did not give Danilo a whiff of a chance in the final, hitting high 10s consistently to close the match out clinically. The lowest he hit was a 10.0 and had as many as two scores of the perfect 10.9, in a display of high-class rifle shooting.
Athletes from 42 nations are participating in the 2022 ISSF President’s Cup and include the top 12-ranked athletes in each discipline this year in addition to slots for the host nation.
Two other Indians, Anjum Moudgil and Swapnil Kusale are in contention for medals on Saturday.