Indian shooting overwhelmed itself with a phenomenal collection of 11 gold, nine silver and seven bronze medals to finish third behind China and Korea in the 52nd World Shooting Championship which concluded in Changwon, Korea, on Friday.
It was a fitting climax as Olympian Gurpreet Singh won men’s standard pistol silver with a score of 579.
The youngsters continued to excel as Vijayveer Sidhu won the standard pistol gold and also bagged a team gold with Rajkanwar Singh Sandhu and Adarsh Singh.
Vijayveer’s twin brother Udhayveer Sidhu had clinched the sports pistol gold earlier and helped the team to the gold as well, with Vijayveer and Rajkanwar.
The Indian men’s skeet team was unable to make an impact, with even a high of 122 saw five shooters miss the final following the shoot-off. Angadvir Singh Bajwa missed the final by four points while Sheeraz Sheikh (115) and Olympian Mairaj Ahmad Khan (113) slipped to the 69th and 77th spots in a field of 111 shooters.
It was heartening to note that India did better from a silver and bronze in the 2014 edition at Granada, Spain to its current status of the third-best behind China (20G, 15S, 8B) and Korea (11G 14S, 11B), with a total of 27 medals, from among 36 countries that managed to figure in the medals table.
There were 3314 shooters in all from 88 countries in the World Championship. India fielded 142 including 63 juniors.
In the history of the World Championship in shooting from 1897, India had won only 29 medals in all categories.
India’s previous best haul was in 2006 in Zagreb when the squad won the gold medals through Abhinav Bindra, Manavjit Singh Sandhu and junior Navnath Fartade.
The impressive collection of medals apart, it was a fact that India could collect only two Olympic quota places, both in women’s air rifle through Anjum Moudgil and Apurvi Chandela.
More importantly, Anjum’s silver was the only individual medal in an Olympic event for the Indian team, without taking the junior events into account.
Asian Games gold medallist Saurabh Chaudhary did shoot the air pistol gold with a world record 245.5, but he figured in the junior event owing to the stringent selection criteria of the National federation.
Elavenil Valarivan, Shreya Agrawal and Manini Kaushik set a new world junior record in junior women’s air rifle with 1880.7, while Manisha Keer matched the world record with 41 hits in the junior women’s trap final even though she ended up with the silver eventually.
Russia (12), China (10), Slovakia (5), Korea (5), USA (4), Croatia (3) were the countries that won a better haul of Olympic quota places. India was on par with Australia, Norway, Ukraine, France, Germany and Italy in ensuring two Olympic quota places.
The Indian shooters will have the World Cups next year, including the one to be hosted in Delhi, to win further Olympic quota places, apart from the Asian Championship.
For the youngsters like Manu Bhaker, Mehuli Ghosh, Shahu Tushar Mane and Saurabh Chaudhary the next big event will be the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires in October.
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