India’s Rajput wins silver at ISSF World Cup

Rajput shot 456.9 to win the silver medal in the last World Cup before the Rio Olympic Games. Croatia’s Petar Gorsa won the gold medal with 457.5, while Hyeonjun Kim of Korea bagged the bronze after he shot 445.5.

Rajput finished seventh in the qualification with a score of 1,167 in kneeling, prone and standing position, while Olympic bronze medallist Gagan Narang was 23rd with 1,161.   -  Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

Despite being dejected at his Olympic quota being snatched away, Sanjeev Rajput kept his composure and shot a silver in men’s rifle three-position event in the shooting World Cup in Baku, Azerbaijan, on Tuesday.

It was the second medal in the World Cup for India, following the air pistol silver by Jitu Rai. India’s tally could have increased further but for former Asian champion Man Singh losing a shoot-off for the bronze medal match following a four-way tie in the semifinals of men’s skeet.

Man Singh had shot brilliantly in the earlier shoot-off to take one of two spots in the knock-out after being tied with five others on 122 out of 125.

It was a highly successful venture for India, as apart from the two silver medals, the team placed seven others in the knock-out stage. Of the ten shooters who will be competing in Rio, Abhinav Bindra, Gagan Narang, Heena Sidhu and Kynan Chenai made the finals. Pooja Ghatkar and Man Singh were the others to make the knock-out phase.

The day belonged to the 35-year-old Sanjeev who made a telling statement by finishing much ahead of Gagan Narang and Chain Singh who placed 23rd and 32nd respectively with scores of 1161 and 1159 respectively. Both will be competing in the event in the Rio Games.

‘’The mental struggle has come to an end’’, said Sanjeev, quite happy to return to the winning ways.

In Gagan’s defence, it should be mentioned that he had already made the finals of both the air rifle and prone events.

Qualifying with a score of 1167, with rounds of 388 in kneeling, 398 in prone and 381 in standing position, Sanjeev made a superb fight for the gold in a gripping climax.

After conceding a lead of 3.1 points to the eventual gold medallist Petar Gorsa of Croatia, who had topped qualification with 1173, Sanjeev had scores of 10.8, 10.8 and 10.6 on the last three shots that saw him slip to silver by 0.6 point.

It was the third World Cup medal for Sanjeev, a two-time Asian champion. He had won the gold in the Changwon World Cup in 2011, with a qualification score of 1176, and had won the air rifle silver in the Sydney World Cup in 2010. He had competed in the last two Olympics in Beijing and London, but could muster only scores of 1162 and 1161 respectively in the 3-position event.

Man Singh struck good form, but after shooting 74 out of 75 overnight, he dropped two birds in the last two rounds that forced him to endure an exhausting shoot-off to make the semifinals.

Mairaj Ahmad Khan, who shot the silver in the Rio World Cup and who will be competing in the Rio Olympics, shot 121, as he had a series 25, 24, 24, 24 and 24.

Results:

Men: 50m rifle 3-position: 1. Petar Gorsa (Cro) 457.5 (1173); 2. Sanjeev Rajput 456.9 (1167); 3. Kim Hyeonjun (Kor) 445.5 (1171); 23. Gagan Narang 1161; 32. Chain Singh 1159. Skeet: 1. Nikolay Teplyy (Rus) 15(2) 16 (123); 2. Azmy Mehelba (Egy) 15(1) 16 (122)10; 3. Tammaro Cassandro (Ita) 16 (13)8 (124); 4. Mostafa Hamdy (Egy) 11 (13)8 (123); 6. Man Singh 13(3) 122(10); 16. Mairaj Ahmad Khan 121; 40. Sheeraz Sheikh 117.