Veteran rifle shooter Sanjeev Rajput turned in a steady display to win a silver medal in a roller-coaster men’s 50m rifle 3-positions final at the ongoing Asian Games on Tuesday. The 37-year-old scored a total of 452.7 points to clinch India’s third medal of the day and sixth in shooting at the 2018 Asiad. China’s Hui Zicheng won the gold while Japan’s Matsumoto Takayuki got the bronze.
The Indian had led for majority of the competition, and had a good lead of about three points going into the standing after the kneeling and prone. However, he couldn’t maintain the same consistency in standing, which is the most challenging of the three positions, and fell to fourth before staging a recovery.
Earlier in the qualification, Rajput had reached the final after finishing seventh with a total of 1160. (Kneeling 389 + Prone 396 + Standing 375). The other Indian in the fray, Akhil Sheoran, finished 11th with a score of 1158. China’s Hang Yaoran, who won the 10m Air Rifle gold a day before, topped the table with 1174.
In the final, Rajput started strong with a 10.9 in the very first series and led the field with 51.3 points. He continued to lead after 10 shots with a total of 103.0, a good 1.4 points ahead of Yurkov of Kazakhstan.
But a disasterous 7.8 shot meant that he not only lost the lead, but also went to second after the three series in kneeling, which is his strongest suit. He responded with a rueful shake of the head, knowing what he had squandered. He finished the kneeling section in second place with 151.2 points, 0.5 points behind Kazakhstan’s Yuriy Yurkov.
After the first prone series, Rajput was back in the lead, which he then extended to more than a point after the second series. In the final prone series, Rajput fired in a money shot of 10.9 that had the crowd applauding. He was firmly back in the lead after the two positions with a total score of 307.1 with a vital lead of exactly three points over second placed Yaoran who made the steady climb up.
A gold seemed imminent but Rajput struggled in the standing series, starting with 8.5. After the first series, he was still in the lead but Yang Haoran had almost halved it.
In the second series, he hit an 8.9 but Yang shot a 7.8 so it didn’t do much harm and then came shots of 9.7 and 9.0 which cost him the lead. After a breather of few seconds post the string of under 10s, he came up with a 10.4 to maintain a slim lead.
But his next shot was another poor 8.4. But once the elimination began he quickly recovered from and made sure he won the silver with a 10.3 in the series to decide who was eliminated as the third best shooter.