Rajeshwari Kumari became only the second Indian woman to ever win an Olympic quota place in the Women’s Trap event, after she finished fifth in the final at the ISSF World Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan on Thursday.
After shooting a national record score of 120, to break her own record of 118, in the qualification round, the India No 1 finished with 19-hits from the first 30-targets of the six-woman 50-shot final to clinch India’s seventh Paris 2024 Olympics quota place in Shooting. Chinese Taipei’s Lin Yi Chun won gold with 40-hits to 39 of Italy’s Jessica Rossi, the London Olympic and three-time world champion.
“I am feeling great, it’s unbelievable,” she said after the final. “It’s finally done. It’s done for the country. I mean I wish I could win a medal but this is great.
India also won a bronze medal on the day in the team competition of the men’s 25m center fire pistol, when Rajendra Bagul, Akshay Jain and Gaurav Chaudhary shot a combined 1718 to finish behind Germany (1743) and Korea (1731). India is placed third on the medal tally now with five gold and five bronze medals behind powerhouses China and USA.
India thus ends their engagements in the Olympic events with one gold (10m Air Pistol Mixed Team) and two bronze (10m Air Rifle Women and 50m Rifle 3 Positions Men) medals and four Paris 2024 Olympic quotas.
The six finalists, besides former double trap world champion and four-time Olympian Lin, Rossi and Kumari, included two-time Tokyo Olympics medallist Alessandra Perilli of San Marino, multiple ISSF World Cup medallist Cuicui Wu of China and Kathrin Murche of Germany. With Rossi ineligible for a quota, Kumari held her nerve under blustery conditions and did enough to bag the coveted quota place.
Kumari hit her first target of the final, whereas three finalists missed. With misses happening all-around in challenging conditions, the Indian then missed her second, seventh 10th, 11th, 13th and 15th targets. She then scored a five out of five in her fourth series to move up to fourth with 14 hits with Perilli and Wu trailing. Rossi led the pack with 18 hits.
Then in the first elimination series with the pressure building up, she nailed the 24th bird to confirm safety and the quota. She was fifth at the end of 25-targets with 16-hits to her name with Perilli bowing out in sixth with 15 and Rossi still in the lead.
The other Indians in the field who could not make the final included Manisha Keer who was 23rd with 115 and Preeti Rajak who shot 109 for a 58th place finish. In the women’s team competition, they collectively finished fifth.
Among the men Prithviraj Tondaiman shot best and finished 23rd with a score of 121. He shot rounds of 25 and 24 on the day. Olympian Kynan Chenai was 51st with 119 while Zoravar Sandhu was 70th with 117. India already has one quota in the Men’s Trap through Bhowneesh Mendiratta. The team was 11th in the team competition.