Aishwary Pratap Singh Tomar, who is a Tokyo Olympics quota holder, claimed the gold medal in the men’s 50m rifle 3 positions event, consolidating the India’s top position in the ISSF World Cup in Delhi on Wednesday.

The 20-year-old from Bhopal shot 462.5 to beat Hungary veteran Istvan Peni (461.6) and Denmark’s Steffen Olsen (450.9) at the Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range. Tomar became the youngest Indian ever to win gold in this event, according to PTI.

After an impressive start following which he led for a while, Tomar slipped in the standings but fought back strongly with a 10.4, 10.5 and 10.3 in the standing elimination stage. He led the eight-man final at the end of the kneeling position with 155.0 and was in second place after prone with 310.5, behind Olsen (311.4) and ahead of Peni (309.9).

Of the other Indians in the final, veteran and fellow Olympic quota holder Sanjeev Rajput finished sixth while Niraj Kumar was eighth.

Shooting against such seasoned shooters as compatriot and double Olympian Sanjeev Rajput, former Prone World Champion Steffen Olsen of Denmark and multiple world cup medallist and world number 15 Jan Lochbihler of Switzerland, besides Hungarian Rifle ace Peni, young Aishwary started strong and led the field after the first 15 Kneeling position shots.

At the end of the second prone position however, Olsen cashed in on a couple of low-scoring shots by Tomar and took the lead with Peni right on Tomar’s shoulder in third. The youngster from the Madhya Pradesh Shooting Academy then staged a brilliant comeback in the final Standing position, shooting a high 52.2 in the final series before the eliminations (40-shots), to lead Peni, who had now risen to second, by 1.6 points.

“This will further boost my confidence ahead of the Tokyo Olympics,” he said after his maiden gold in a senior world cup.

The gold medal is a far cry from the time when he was disqualified from his first Nationals in 2015, and then suspended for an entire year due to a technical reason.

Training rigorously for a year, he returned in 2016 and in 2018, Tomar won three gold medals in the junior nationals in all three rifle disciplines.

Having made his way into the Indian junior team, Tomar shone in the events he participated in before securing the Olympic quota.

Earlier in the qualification, Tomar shot 1165 to finish fifth while Rajput had topped the charts with a a score of 1172 while Niraj Kumar bagged the eighth and final qualifying spot, piping legend Peter Sidi of Hungary when he too finished with 1165.

Tomar had won the bronze medal in the 50 metre rifle 3 positions event at the 2019 Asian Shooting Championships to secure a quota place for India at the Olympics.

This comes three days after Tomar combined with Deepak Kumar and Pankaj Kumar to win the silver medal in the men’s team air rifle event.

(With PTI inputs)