Indian Skeet shooters brought home five medals and two Paris 2024 Olympics quota places, their first in the discipline, as teenager Raiza Dhillon and Anant Jeet Singh Naruka won individual silvers in women’s and men’s skeet at the Asia Olympic Qualification Shotgun in Kuwait City, Kuwait on Saturday.

Dhillon and Naruka’s efforts got them quotas against their name as they also went on to win the team gold and bronze in the events. These were Indian Shooting’s 18th and 19th quotas for the Paris Games. Maheshwari Chauhan, one of three Indians in the women’s skeet final, also won an individual bronze to add icing to the cake.

The two individual quotas in men’s and women’s skeet also provided an additional start for India in the Mixed Skeet Olympic event in Paris. The Indian Shooting squad will now have a record minimum 19 quota places and 23 starts at the Summer Olympic Games.

Women show the way

It was the women who showed the way in Kuwait early on Saturday, when all three medal contenders made their way into the top six. Ganemat Sekhon was the best Indian qualifier with 117, while Maheshwari and Dhillon both finished on 115, the former taking third while the latter sixth after a four-way shoot-off for crucial bib numbers.

Dhillon then had a dream start to the 60-shot final nailing 29 out of the first 30 targets and then 37 out of the first 40, as it boiled down to China’s Gao Jinmei and her, with Maheshwari looking destined for bronze.

By then India’s quota had been confirmed and Dhillon made it her own after 50 targets, as Maheshwari bowed out with 43 hits to her 46.

Gao ended the strongest with 56 hits out of 60 to take gold, with Dhillon, the 2023 junior world championship silver medallist, taking yet another prized silver with 52.

Gao also took the other available quota while the Qatari and Thai athletes missed out. Ganemat finished fourth with 30-hits.

The trio also took team gold in the event comfortably with a tally of 347, five clear of China.

Assured Anant

Anant Jeet Singh Naruka had no such fraternal company, shooting solid rounds of 25 and 24 to qualify second as the sole Indian in the men’s skeet final. His score of 121 tied him with quota holder Lee Meng Yuan of Chinese Taipei, who he beat 8-7 in a shoot-off to claim bib number 2.

With Lebanon’s Samer Sarkis and local favourite Mohamed Aldaihani also making the top six, Naruka would have to finish ahead of both of at least one of them and one of the two Chinese to claim the quota.

Naruka, who had a breakthrough 2023 when he won a historic Asian Games silver and his maiden national crown, began positively, taking sole lead after shooting down six out of his first six targets.

Wu Yunxuan, the first of the two Chinese finalists, was the first to leave after 20 shots as Naruka continued to lead till the 30-target mark with 28-hits.

Lee Meng Yuan of Chinese Taipei was on the same score while Aldaihani and the second Chinese Ma Chenglong, were chasing both the leader and the quota places.

Naruka then missed the 40th target as Lee took sole lead with 38 hits, but the Paris quota was confirmed for India and Kuwait, as Aldaihani took advantage of Ma’s misses.

Lee and Naruka then went shot for shot, with both missing just one of the last 20, but it was enough for Lee to hold on for gold at 57 hits to Naruka’s 56.

The team bronze was also claimed by India in the event as the trio of Anant Jeet, Gurjoat Khangura (qualification: 113) and Munek Battulla (113) tallied a total of 347 to finish behind China and Kuwait.

Sunday will feature the Mixed Team Skeet competition.