Guts and glory

Champion of champions…Ravi Kumar in rifle shooting and (below) Samaresh Jung in standard pistol.-Pics: SANDEEP SAXENA Champion of champions…Ravi Kumar in rifle shooting and (below) Samaresh Jung in standard pistol.

Star shooters, former and current, display tremendous competitive spirit in their quest for top honours. Kamesh Srinivasan reports.

It was perhaps the greatest of all National shooting championships. Even though some of the star shooters were not in the best of health, they took part in the event. And their performance — even if it fell below expectations in some cases — proved that Indian shooting was heading in the right direction.

Imagine the five-time World champion, Viswanathan Anand, playing the National chess championship; Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi, Somdev Devvarman, Rohan Bopanna and Sania Mirza playing the National tennis championship, or for that matter Saina Nehwal playing in the National badminton championship! Even other accomplished sportsmen such as wrestler Sushil Kumar, who has won two Olympic medals, and boxer Vijender Singh, a bronze medal winner at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, do not figure in the Nationals.

In contrast, all the star shooters — right from World and Olympic champion Abhinav Bindra, London Olympics silver medallist Vijay Kumar and bronze medallist Gagan Narang to World Cup Final gold medal winner Heena Sidhu, World Cup gold medal winner Rahi Sarnobat and Asian Games gold medal winner Ronjan Sodhi, along with a string of other former stars such as Jaspal Rana and Samaresh Jung — were in attendance. Also in the fray were World Champions such as Manavjit Singh Sandhu and Tejaswini Sawant, World Cup gold medallist Sanjeev Rajput, World junior champion Asher Noria, and World Cup medal winners Lajja Gauswami and Prakash Nanjappa.

Winning the Nationals may not mean much for Abhinav Bindra, but he showed his competitive spirit by claiming the air rifle title with a 10.8 final shot.

Bindra won by a big margin, but what impressed everyone including the shooter himself was his execution. “Would have hurt like hell had I not,” observed Bindra, who has been battling a bad back.

It was a bit of a disappointment for Gagan Narang as he failed to make the air rifle final, after having won the silver medal in the rifle 3-position event and the bronze in prone earlier. He was, however, quite happy to be competing after having suffered a career-threatening neck injury that had numbed his arm. It may be recalled that Narang had shot a world record 600 while beating Bindra in the Commonwealth Games at the same venue (Dr. Karni Singh Range in Tughlakabad) in 2010.

Ravi Kumar of Air Force, trained by Manoj Kumar, was disappointed to go without a medal in air rifle after having topped the qualifiers. He, however, went on to emerge as the ‘Champion of Champions’ in rifle, ahead of Olympian Sanjeev Rajput and the talented Mampi Das.

Vijay Kumar was a class act in the 25-metre rapid-fire pistol, winning the gold medal following a flurry of perfect rounds in the climax. The London Games silver medallist pointed out that it was a challenge for him to be at his best despite not having had the best of training for about three months, when he was without the services of coach Pavel Smirnov, who had moved on from the Army to the national squad. Vijay emerged the best shooter among men, thanks to his versatile shooting.

Yet, the manner in which Akshay Suhas Ashtaputre of Maharashtra twice tied with Vijay before losing out in the climax and the fact that the seasoned Pemba Tamang had to settle for the bronze after having qualified at the top with a score of 580, showed that if one had the guts and the technique he can match anyone.

Jaspal Rana, who had redeemed India’s pride in the Asian Games in Hiroshima in 1994 and more recently in the 2006 Doha Asian Games with a string of gold medals, entered the rapid-fire pistol final to show what he was capable of when he focuses on the competition.

Tamang came back strongly in the centre-fire pistol to beat Vijay Kumar by four points for the gold with a score of 583, while Samaresh Jung, the hero of the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, showed his form of old to win the standard pistol gold and the air pistol bronze. Samaresh was also crowned the Champion of Champions in pistol.

Prakash Nanjappa, who had suffered Bell’s palsy, overcame a strong field to win the 50-metre free pistol gold, while Dharmendra Singh won the air pistol gold ahead of Jitu Rai in a splendid climax.

Samarjit Singh won a string of junior gold medals to be adjudged the ‘Best Junior Shooter’.

Rakesh Manpat, who had practised with paper targets back home in Bangalore, beat Joydeep Karmakar, who had placed fourth in the men’s rifle prone event at the London Olympics.

It was a fairytale finish for Anirudh Singh, who had made it to the final of the Acapulco World Cup earlier in the season, as he rose like a phoenix from the ashes to clinch the trap gold. Earlier, he was unsure of being in the core group following two bad rounds at the start. Kynan Chenai and Prithviraj Tondaiman were able to move into the medal bracket ahead of Asian champion Manavjit Sandhu, who had qualified at the top with 121 out of 125.

Two-time World Cup Final gold medallist Ronjan Sodhi won his maiden national gold with a classy finish that also fetched him a Beretta gun. Man Singh, the former Asian champion, was able to assert his class in men’s skeet, while youngsters Manavaditya Singh Rathhore, Kabir Singh Dhillon and Angad Vir Singh Bajwa drew attention with their remarkable showing, which underscored the power and potential of the youngsters.

Raj Chaudhary…the ‘Best Shooter’ in the women’s section.-

The star, however, was Manavaditya Singh Rathore, aged 14, who won the junior trap gold ahead of defending champion G. S. Sharan. Son of Olympic silver medallist Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, who shot well in double trap and opted out of finals and team selection owing to other commitments, Manavaditya showed his steely determination apart from the elegance of a left-hander to assert his immense potential.

In the women’s section, Malaika Goel, 16, was the superstar among stars, as she won the air pistol gold ahead of Harveen Srao and Shreya Gawande. World Cup Final gold medallist Heena Sidhu failed to make the final in this event. Malaika swept the junior and youth gold medals as well.

Anita Devi, a head constable with the Haryana Police, was all poise as she won the women’s 25-metre sports pistol gold ahead of Anisa Sayyed in a gripping climax.

Mampi Das was too good in winning the air rifle gold ahead of Pooja Ghatkar and Apurvi Chandela, while Anjali Bhagwat missed a medal owing to one bad shot. Raj Chaudhary of Army and Elizabeth Susan Koshy of Kerala won the women’s prone and 3-position gold medals to emphasise the depth in competition. Both Raj, who won the prone silver as well, and Susan were adjudged the ‘Best Shooters’ in the women’s and junior women’s sections respectively.

* * * THE RESULTS MEN

Air pistol: 1. Dharmendra Singh 199.1 (576), 2. Jitu Rai 197.3 (577); 3. Samaresh Jung 186.5 (576). Juniors: 1. Kapil Kumar 578; 2. Devendra Singh 574; 3. Arun 571. Youth: 1. Samarjit Singh 567; 2. Anmol Jain 566; 3. Shainki Nagar 565. 50m free pistol: 1. Prakash Nanjappa 190.2 (550); 2. Kapil Kumar 186.3 (547); 3. Gurpal Singh 166.0 (546). Juniors: 1. Sukhwinder Singh 549; 2. Kapil Kumar 547; 3. Prashant Malik 540. 25m rapid-fire pistol: 1. Vijay Kumar 30 (559); 2. Akshay Suhas Ashtaputre 28 (568); 3. Pemba Tamang 22 (580). Juniors: 1. Manpreet Singh 555; 2. Rushiraj Atul Barot 548; 3. Sunil Gurung 547. Standard pistol: 1. Samaresh Jung 576; 2. Mahavir Singh 569; 3. Vijay Kumar 566. Juniors: 1. Sunil Gurung 554; 2. Ajitesh Kaushal 552; 3. Neeraj Kumar 547. Centre-fire pistol: 1. Pemba Tamang 583; 2. Vijay Kumar 579; 3. Harpreet Singh 578 (50); 4. Omkar Singh 578 (46). Juniors: 1. Samarjit Singh 563; 2. Neeraj Kumar 561; 3. Pardeep 560. 25m sports pistol: Juniors: 1. Samarjit Singh 571; 2. Manpreet 570 (48); 3. Neeraj Kumar 570 (47). Air rifle: 1. Abhinav Bindra 208.9 (622.3); 2. Ashok Chavanke 204.3 (617.8); 3. Sanjeev Rajput 182.8 (622.5). Juniors: 1. Ekambir Singh Mandi 616.8; 2. Akhil Sheoran 616.8; 3. Harmanvir S. Mansahia 614.3. Youth: 1. Pratik Borse 612.6; 2. Vinaykumar Shashikant Patil 610.4; 3. Prashant 608.8. Free rifle prone: 1. Rakesh Manpat 207.9 (615.9), 2. Joydeep Karmakar 206.1 (619.1), 3. Gagan Narang 183.6 (616.6). Juniors: 1. Isshan Goel 614.8; 2. Navdeep Singh Rathore 614.1; 3. Daniyal Raza Zaidi 611.7. Free rifle 3-position: 1. Sanjeev Rajput 456.1 (1174); 2. Gagan Narang 448.6 (1159); 3. Chain Siangh 437.1 (1159). Juniors: 1. Navdeep Singh Rathore 1121; 2. Shubham Malik 1120; 3. Subhankar Pramanick 1116. Trap: 1. Anirudh Singh 13 (14) 117; 2. Kynan Chenai 11 (15) 120; 3. Prithviraj Tondaiman 11 (3) 13 (119); 4. Manavjit Singh Sandhu 11 (2) 13 (121). Juniors: 1. Manavaditya Singh Rathore 111; 2. G. S. Sharan 110 (1); 3. Mohd. Shees 110 (0). Double trap: 1. Ronjan Sodhi 27 (28) 128; 2. Ajay Mittal 25 (27)14 (125); 3. Mohd. Asab 30 (27)11 (133); 4. Ankur Mittal 27 (27)13 (132). Juniors: 1. Kabir Singh Dhillon 119; 2. Jaisal Singh 115(2); 3. Sanjay Singh Rathore 115 (1). Skeet: 1. Man Singh 14 (14) 120; 2. Arozepal Sandhu 13 (15) 119; 3. Shreyan Kapoor 12 (13) 116; 4. Baba P. S. Bedi 11 (13) 118. Juniors: 1. Angad Vir Singh Bajwa 112; 2. Anantjeet Singh Naruka 110; 3. Mohd. Hamza Sheikh 109.

WOMEN

10m air pistol: 1. Malaika Goel 201.1 (385); 2. Harveen Srao 195.8 (380); 3. Shreya Gawande 174.5 (379). Juniors: 1. Malaika Goel 385; 2. Nayani Bhardwaj 380; 3. Shreya Gawande 379. Youth: 1. Malaika Goel 385; 2. Nayani Bhardwaj 380; 3. Gauri Sheoran 377. 25m sports pistol: 1. Anita Devi 8 (17) 580; 2. Anisa Sayyed 2 (17) 585; 3. Gauri Sheoran 8 (11) 574; 4. Rahi Sarnobat 2 (14) 577. Juniors: 1. Gauri Sheoran 574; 2. Chinki Yadav 561; 3. Oshin Tawani 558. Air rifle: 1. Mampi Das 208.2 (412.9); 2. Pooja Ghatkar 205.9 (416.7); 3. Apurvi Chandela 183.9 (415.2). Juniors: 1. Apurvi Chandela 415.2; 2. S. Praveena 414.3; 3. Shalini Chahar 413.4. Youth: 1. Mampi Das 412.9; 2. Sanvedna S. Khambe 410.7; 3. Prajakta Kailas Kokane 408.6. 50m rifle prone: 1. Raj Chaudhary 620.7; 2. Lajja Gauswami 618.0; 3. Ruchira Arun Lawand 617.6. Juniors: 1. Elizabeth Susan Koshy 615.2; 2. Jayashree Das 611.9; 3. Anjum Moudgil 609.8. Rifle 3-position: 1. Elizabeth Susan Koshy (Ker) 452.0 (573); 2. Raj Chaudhary 449.7 (573); 3. Rajkumari Rathore 437.1 (573). Juniors: 1. Elizabeth Susan Koshy 573; 2. Anjum Moudgil 567; 3. Aprajita Singh 565. Trap: 1. Shagun Chowdhary 12 (14) 65; 2. Varsha Tomar 9 (11) 66; 3. Shikha Bhaduria 9 (8) 62; 4. Seema Tomar 7 (8) 62. Juniors: 1. Anam Basit 56 (2); 2. Varsha Varman 56(1); 3. Malika Wig 55. Double trap: 1. Shreyasi Singh 84; 2. Shagun Chowdhary 77, 3. Varsha Varman 75. Juniors: 1. Varsha Varman 75; 2. Malika Wig 67; 3. N. Nivetha 61. Skeet: 1. Rashmee Rathore 13 (14) 60; 2. Arti Singh 11 (12) 62; 3. Saniya Sheikh 11 (11) 61; 4. Jasmeen Dhadli 9 (6) 45. Juniors: 1. Maheshwari Chauhan 52; 2. Jasmeen Dhadli 45.

Champion of Champions — Pistol: Samaresh Jung; Rifle: Ravi Kumar. Best shooters — Men: Vijay Kumar. Women: Raj Chaudhary. Junior men: Samarjit Singh. Junior women: Elizabeth Susan Koshy.