Rahi Sarnobat became the first Indian woman to win an individual gold medal in shooting in Asian Games history when she held her nerve to clinch the shoot-off by one point n the 25m sport pistol on Wednesday.
The 27-year-old pipped Thailand’s Naphaswan Yangpaiboon by one point in the second shoot-off after both of them were tied on points after the last round and one shoot-off in the nail-biting final. They had both finished on 34 points after the regulation time. The bronze went to South Korea’s Kim Minjung.
In the qualification, Sarnobat had finished seventh among the eight finalists with a total score of 288 and 292 in precision and rapid.
However, 16-year-old Manu Bhaker, couldn’t carry on her form from the qualification, where she had scored a Games record of 593 points. The teenager finished fifth in the final with a score of 16 then.
Sarnobat had started the final with a perfect score in her first two series and had her first miss in the 12th shot. She had led the field in the final till the penultimate series, where she had a poor run and fell to second. As the pressure mounted, it became more difficult to hit the target, but she recovered remarkable to get back on top, leveling scored against the Thai shooter.
Sarnobat is among India’s most successful sport pistol shooters with back-to-back gold medals at the 2010 Delhi and 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games in the 25m pistol event.
But even the 27-year-old hasn’t had the best of runs in the last couple of years after a shoulder injury kept her out of the game for over a year and she struggled with her form since then. But this Asiad gold is sure to be a huge boost.
Sarnobat, who had become India’s first pistol shooter to win a gold in World Cup back in 2013, had suffered a serious elbow injury last year. Realising that she needed a tweak in her technique, she roped in Munkhbayar Dorjsuren, a two-time world champion and Olympic medallist from Germany.
“I had to change her technique and I also worked on her a lot on the mental aspect of the game. She was already a high-level shooter and needed some tweak in her game. It was a close final but I had prepared her for the shoot-off,” Dorjsuren, who moved to Germany from Mongolia, told PTI.
The Mongolian-German coach also knows the legendary Gabriele Buhlmann well. Buhlmann had coached Abhinav Bindra to India’s only individual Olympic gold in 2008.
Rahi is a double gold medallist at the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games and had a bronze in the 25m pistol pairs event at the 2014 Incheon Asian Games.