Deepak Kumar gifted himself on his 32nd birthday by winning bronze in the men’s 10m air rifle event and in the process, gave India a tenth Tokyo 2020 Olympics quota place the Asian Shooting Championships.
Manu Bhaker struck gold in the women’s 10m air pistol later in the day and so did the Junior Trap mixed team pairing of Vivaan Kapoor and Manisha Keer as India rounded up a profitable opening day at the Lusail Shooting Complex in Lusail, Qatar, with five medals in the kitty already.
Success came early for India as Asian Games silver medalist Deepak, finally broke through in his third final of this present Olympic quota cycle, both a medal and a quota place having eluded him on two previous occasions.
Deepak, who has been the most consistent performer for India in the Men’s 10m air rifle over the past three years, shot a steady 626.8 to finish third in qualification, before finishing behind two Chinese shooters in the final to nail the quota and the medal.
Yukun Liu won gold with an effort of 250.5 in the eight-man final while compatriot Haonan Yu won silver with 249.1. Deepak finished with 227.8 to bag the third spot after beginning the final on a tentative note.
Five finalists were eligible to win three available quota places and Deepak gave the Indian camp some nervous moments after being placed sixth in the first five shots of the 24-shot final. A brilliant second series saw him rise up to second, from where he never looked back.
Manu Bhaker, shooting in the women’s 10m air pistol, where she and her country both were ineligible for quotas having won and exhausted them earlier, clinched gold with a dominating performance.
Both Indian quota winners in the event, Manu and Yashaswini Singh Deswal made it to the eight-women finals; Manu topped the qualification with a solid 584 and save a brief moment in the finals, shot confidently and solidly throughout to take out the reigning Asian Games champion from China Wang Qian, by more than 1.5 points in the end equation.
Manu finished with 244.3 while Wang won silver with 242.8. Yashaswini shot 578 to qualify fourth and was eliminated in sixth place in the final on a score of 157.4.
The third Indian in the field, Annu Raj Singh shot 569 for a 20th place finish. However, the trio claimed the team bronze with a total of 1731, behind Korea and China, who won gold and silver respectively.
The only finalist to claim a quota in this event was Iran while North Korean and Japanese shooters bagged the other available Tokyo quotas, finishing ninth and even as far back as eleventh.
Meanwhile, Vivaan Kapoor and Manisha Keer of India defeated China’s Ting Zhang and Pengyu Chen 34-29 in the gold medal match. The Chinese pair had earlier qualified with a record score in qualification. A second Chinese team won bronze beating Lebanon in the bronze-medal match.
In the women’s 10m air rifle, the Indian trio of Elavenil Valarivan, Anjum Moudgil and Apurvi Chandela won the team silver with a combined effort of 1883.2, finishing behind team Korea who totaled 1891.7. Iran won bronze. Elavenil also made it through to the individual final, placing fifth eventually with a score of 187.1. She had earlier shot a solid 629 in qualification to make it to the finals in fourth place.
Anjum Moudgil missed making the finals narrowly, finishing ninth with a score of 627.6 while Apurvi Chandela finished 12th with 626.6.
India has bagged the two possible Olympic quotas in this event through Apurvi and Anjum in earlier competitions. Mehuli Ghosh, shooting in the non-competition MQS section, also returned a creditable score of 628.6.