Rhythm Sangwan staged a fantastic comeback at the back-end of the women’s 10m air pistol final at the International Shooting Sport Federation World Cup Rifle/Pistol in Baku, Azerbaijan to win bronze on Wednesday. She finished behind two former Olympic champions, gold medal winner Anna Korakaki of Greece and silver medallist Olena Kostevych of Ukraine.
Sarabjot Singh earlier in the men’s 10m air pistol and Esha Singh in the women’s event missed out on medals despite qualifying for the finals.
On a day when the ISSF reverted back to the Tokyo Olympics format, Rhythm had shot 581 and Esha 579 in the 60-shot qualification stage, to qualify for the eight-woman 24-shot final in third and seventh spots respectively. A third Olympic champion in the finals field, Tokyo Mixed Team winner Jiang Ranxin of China had topped the field with a 588, seven ahead of second-best Kim Bomi of Korea.
Ukrainian legend Kostevych was the strongest of the blocks with a solid 10.6, but the Indians struggled early, particularly Esha who began with three shots in the eight-ring.
After 10-shots, Anna was in the lead with Olena behind her while Rhythm and Esha were in fifth and sixth positions. At the end of the 20th however, while Esha had fallen away and finished in sixth place, Rhythm was up to third and a point behind second placed Olena and 2.7 behind Anna. She kept fighting but eventually stopped a point behind the Ukranian with 219.1 on the board. Having established a healthy lead, Anna closed out comfortably for gold with 241.3 while Olena shot 240.6 for silver.
It was also a breakthrough medal for Rhythm as this was her first individual senior medal at an Olympic event.
Divya TS, the third Indian in contention, had shot 575 to finish in 17th place.
In the men’s 10m air pistol, Sarabjot Singh, fresh from a gold at the Bhopal World Cup, shot the highest qualification score of 589, four points ahead of the second best. However, that level eluded him in the final as he finished fourth to miss out on back-to-back ISSF World Cup medals. 23-year-old Iranian Sajad Poorhosseini of Iran was the sensation in the field, coming back from way behind to pip the experienced Oleh Omelchuk of Ukraine with two brilliant 10.9s glowing in his card at the end stages, to win gold.
Shiva Narwal had earlier shot 579 in qualification to finish 14th while Varun Tomar was 44th with 574.