Heena Sidhu won the women’s air pistol gold 0.8 point ahead of compatriot Shweta Singh to provide a fitting climax for the host in the eighth Asian Air Gun championship at the Dr. Karni Singh Range, Tughlakabad, on Wednesday.
For India, both the gold and silver mattered a lot, as the team matched Iran with six gold and five silver medals, and clinched the overall honour by virtue of more bronze medals, 6 to 1.
India won a lot of medals in the junior events but some of them were not counted as they were categorised as Grand Prix for lack of enough entries.
More than being relieved, the host must have been happy to get such a strong fight from Iran, in a meet which did not have world leader China. The focus for everyone will be the Asian Championship scheduled in Kuwait for November, offering the last set of Olympic quota places for Rio.
The 26-year-old Heena, a dentist from Patiala, married to renowned shooter Ronak Pandit, was understandably happy with the gold, but not that pleased with the way she delayed her shots in the final.
“I pick up the pistol last, but I shoot in three to five seconds. Today, I was not happy with the timing. I was struggling with it, revealed Heena, the world record holder who won the World Cup Final gold in 2013.
Incidentally, among the three Indians who bagged the gold in the last championship, only Heena managed to defend the medal. Former World and Olympic champion Abhinav Bindra had won the gold in men’s air rifle to provide a strong start for the host.
The Incheon Asian Games medallist Shweta Singh, who had shot 383 in qualification, led by 0.1 point before the last two shots, but virtually lost the race with a penultimate shot of 8.9. Heena did shoot 9.2 on the last shot but could afford that, after a 10.6 earlier.
Heena was happy with her qualification score of 387, but she was matched by Yashaswini Deswal. The latter slipped out of the medals race with two 9s and was placed a creditable fourth behind Korean Kim Seon A.
The Indian team swept the gold medal tally ahead of Sri Lanka, which was happy to get hold of a medal, four points ahead of Hong Kong. With only three teams in the race, Hong Kong did not get the bronze.
Shri Nivetha was a class act in the junior section as she pipped compatriots Gauri Sheoran and Shreya Gawande for the gold, in a field that had only four shooters.
In the youth section, Commonwealth Games silver medallist Malaika Goel went out of the medal bracket, and Harshada Nithawe, coached by Snagram Deshmukh in Aurangabad, claimed the bronze medal.
Haryana girl Yogita Lamba impressed by shooting the best score of 380, albeit in the MQS section.
10m air pistol:
Women: 1. Heena Sidhu 197.8 (387); 2. Shweta Singh 197.0 (383); 3. Kim seon A (Kor) 175.8 (378); 4. Yashaswini Singh Deswal 155.3 (387). MQS: Akanksha Bansal 378; Harveen Srao 377.
Team: 1. India 1157; 2. Sri Lanka 1098; 3. Hong Kong 1094.
Juniors: 1. P. Shri Nivetha 200.7 (378); 2. Gauri Sheoran 198.0 (380); 3. Shreya Gawande 179.9 (380). MQS: Lavi Malik 365; Oshin Tawani 361.
Team: 1. India 1138.
Youth: 1. Haniyeh Rostamiyan (Iri) 195.6 (374); 2. Laya Mohammadi (Iri) 195.4 (368); 3. Harshada Nithave 174.8 (373); 6. Malaika Goel 113.9 (374); 7. Nayani Bhardwaj 93.6 (369). MQS: Yogita Lamba 380; Swati Devadi 364.
Team: 1. India 1116; 2. Iran 1104; 3. Chinese Taipei 1100.