The rifle hall at the Fuyang Yinhu Sports Centre was witness to the highs of ecstasy and the lows of disbelief in Indian shooting simultaneously on Friday even as the country added two golds and three silvers to its medals tally from the sport.
Aishwary Pratap Singh Tomar took his personal tally to four with a gold and silver each in the rifle 50m 3-Position on the day, as shooting’s own tally went up to 18 medals so far in this edition – six gold, seven silver and five bronze -- with two more days of action remaining, bettering the previous best of 14 medals in 2006 at Doha.
Also adding two silvers to take her personal medal count to four was Esha Singh, taking the team and individual second spot, the latter behind compatriot Palak in the 10m air pistol as India finally got a 1-2 in shooting.
Four medals in your maiden Asian Games, including two gold, at the age of 22 would be a matter of pride for anyone. For Tomar, it was just a reward for the efforts the youngster has put in over the years. He took an individual silver with 459.7 points, having led to a team gold earlier in the day along with Swapnil Kusale and Akhil Sheoran for a new World Record total of 1769 points.
“We have been preparing for these competitions for a long time so it feels really nice. Coming here and winning medals, achieving my goals slowly, feels good.
“ Expectation se to zyada hi hai par jitni mehnat aur training ki hai, us hisab se thik hai (What I have achieved here is more than what I expected, but considering the hard work and amount of training we did, not surprised),” a beaming Tomar told Sportstar.
Having started badly and struggling at 7th position in the initial stages, Tomar pulled himself up gradually, climbing the ranks through prone before going all out in the standing section to get himself into the medal bracket. At the other end, Kusale, having been in the top-three all along and comfortably placed for a medal, shot a 7.6 on the 41st shot to drop from 1st to 5th – he still got a 10.5 and 10.1 in the next two shots, but the damage was done -- and eventually be eliminated, finishing 4th behind China’s Jiaming Tian.
“I don’t remember, maybe years ago when I was just starting, never in competition,” a poker-faced Kusale said about shooting such a low score. “Feels bad, a lot must have been some mistake by me only, but I don’t know what happened. But it’s a game, will come back stronger the next time,” he added, bemused.
Tomar, meanwhile, admitted it wasn’t easy to recover from a bad start. “I don’t usually shoot so badly,” he admitted sheepishly. “Kneeling went bad, and both score and rank went low. I thought I will make up in prone, but that also didn’t go too well. There was pressure, [and] some doubts also because everyone else was doing well. Then I thought standing was left, and I will do well in that, forgot everything and focussed on the target and managed to get through,” he explained.
Meanwhile, 17-year-old Palak, the youngest Indian shooter here, was speechless after claiming gold in the 10m Air Pistol. That it came with a new Games record of 242.1 points only made it special even as Esha finished 2.4 points behind to take silver.
“It feels so great, I am not able to express the feeling in words. I don’t think I am old enough to give any message to anyone but all I can say is if you work hard, everything will fall into place on the right path. I did expect a podium finish because I had trained hard for that but definitely not a gold,” she admitted.
And she still wasn’t satisfied enough. “When I went for the qualification, I only had one thing in mind, no matter what happens, do not give up. I’m not satisfied with my qualification score. I had a 577, which was enough to qualify, but it wasn’t up to the mark, I’m always looking at a 580-plus. That’s what I want to achieve in the coming events. Once you’re in the finals, you have already made it there, you cannot give up,” she declared.
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