A 16th Olympic quota eluded India but the gold rush continued unabated as the host nation consolidated its top position in the pecking order with two more yellow metals in the ISSF shooting World Cup in New Delhi on Friday.
India leads the chart with 25 medals, including 12 gold, seven silver and six bronze.
On Friday, the seasoned duo of Sanjeev Rajput and Tejaswini Sawant began the day on a rousing note, winning the gold in the 50m rifle 3 positions mixed team event by beating Ukraine’s Serhiy Kulish and Anna Ilina 31-29.
Aishwary Pratap Singh Tomar and Sunidhi Chauhan won the bronze medal after getting the better of USA’s Timothy Sherry and Virginia Thrasher 31-15 at the Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range.
Then, the troika of Niraj Kumar, Swapnil Kusale and Chain Singh claimed gold in the 50m rifle 3 positions men’s team event, comfortably getting the better of USA 47-25 in the final.
Vijayveer Sidhu, 18, won silver medal behind Estonia’s Peeter Olesk in the men’s 25m rapid fire pistol final, a result not good enough to secure a quota place for the Tokyo Olympics as it was only reserved for the gold-medallist.
The lone Indian in the trap final among both men and women, Kynan Chenai, finished in fourth place with 27 hits after suffering an equipment malfunction, dashing his hopes of securing a quota.
In the women’s qualifications, Commonwealth Games gold-medallist Shreyasi Singh was placed 10th, Manisha Keer was 12th and Rajeshwari Kumari 13th, while Prithviraj Tondaiman was seventh and Lakshay 17th in men’s section.
But there was disappointment in store for the likes of Anish Bhanwala and Gurpreet Singh, who could not shine in the rapid fire final to bow out of Olympic contention on the basis of rankings points.
In the morning, Rajput and Sawant were 1-3 behind before leading 5-3.
But the visiting shooters then raced ahead of their opponents before the Indians made another strong comeback to regain the top position and from there on, maintained the lead to end on a winning note
The Ukrainians tried to make a match of it but the home favourites managed to prevail in an exciting final.
In Qualification 2, Rajput and Sawant finished at the top with a total score of 588, with both the shooters getting 294 each.
While Tomar and Chauhan logged 580 to end the final qualification at fourth place and make the bronze medal round.
Kulish and Ilina were placed third with 583, ahead of the American duo of Thrasher and Sherry (581).
Sidhu settled for the silver medal behind Estonia’s Peeter Olesk in the men’s 25m rapid fire pistol final.
With 26 hits each, both Vijayveer and Olesk were tied for the top spot at the end of the 40-shot rapid fire final. In the shoot-off, after having shot brilliantly to score four out of five hits in the eighth and final series, Vijayveer managed just one.
Under no pressure, Olesk got four hits to win the top prize after a consistent showing though the finals.
The other Indian shooters in the final, Anish and Gurpreet occupied the fifth and sixth places, while Poland’s Oskar Miliwek bagged the bronze with 20.
In Qualification 2, the seasoned Gurpreet was the best-placed Indian at third place with a total of 581, having shot 290 in the first stage and 291 in the second.
Anish was in fifth place with a total score of 579 and Sidhu too made the cut after managing to grab the sixth and final qualifying slot with an aggregate of 579 over the two stages.
In the men’s rifle 3 position team event, Kumar, Kusale and Singh led through the final to easily claim the top prize ahead of the American team of Nickolaus Mowrer, Timothy Sherry and Patrick Sunderman at the Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range.
Even as the Indians regularly scored mid and high 10s, the marksmen from USA struggled to match the standards of the host nation, often hovering in low nine and eight.
India were originally supposed to play Hungary in the final on Thursday but the visiting team pulled out of the event following a dispute between its world number one shooter Istvan Peni and the veteran Peter Sidi over the use of a bipod by the latter.
Initially, USA had finished third in the event.
Italy’s Daniele Resca claimed the men’s trap gold with 46 ahead of Spain’s Alberto Fernandez (45), who was cruising towards the top prize before missing the final shot. Valerio Grazini, also of Italy, settled for the bronze.
This was after the Indian shooters could not make the final of the women’s trap event that was won by Slovakia’s Zuzana Rehak Stefecekova via a shoot-off (5-4) over Poland’s Sandra Bernal and Italy’s Fiammetta Rossi.
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