ISSF World Cup: Off day for India as Jitu Rai, Ghatkar fail to enter final

India had a disappointing day in the ISSF World Cup as Jitu Rai and Pooja Ghatkar failed to enter the final of their respective events.

Jitu Rai could not make the final of the men’s 10m air pistol after he finished a lowly ninth. (file image)   -  PTI

India experienced a disappointing day in the ISSF World Cup Final as both its representatives, ace pistol shooter Jitu Rai, and Pooja Ghatkar in women’s air rifle, failed to clear the qualification hurdle.

Ace pistol shooter Jitu Rai threw a life line for former World Champion Tomoyuki Matsuda, and the Japanese gratefully grabbed the chance to clinch the men’s air pistol gold in the World Cup Final at the Dr. Karni Singh Range, Tughlakabad, on Thursday.

There was little hope for the 41-year-old Japanese who had won the gold in the World Cup at the same venue in February, when he scored 573 in qualification.

READ: ISSF World Cup: Tomoyuki Matsuda sets new world record to win men's 10m Air Pistol final

However, needing a 95 on the last series, Jitu struck a string of 9s in the climax and missed qualification by one point. The reigning Olympic champion Xuan Vinh Hoang of Vietnam had ensured the tenth and last spot with a 568, and Jitu was hovering between the two great champions, for the most part.

Jitu did improve after a lethargic start, but was not at his best in the end, in a series of 94, 96, 96, 97, 95 and 94. He even struck the odd eight to complicate matters.

"I was not triggering well today. Sometimes, the harder you try the worse it gets. It feels bad’’, said Jitu, who had won the mixed air pistol gold with Heena Sidhu on the opening day. He will shoot free pistol along with Amanpreet Singh.

Eventual gold medal winner Matsuda Tomoyuki of Japan, who qualified eighth, aggregated 573 in the qualification, while Vietnamese Cuong Quoc Tran topped it with 586 but fell behind in the final.

It was an equally heart-breaking story for Pooja Ghatkar who had won the bronze medal in the World Cup in February, as she missed the final by 0.1 point despite a strong finish when she shot 104.8.

The former World and Olympic medallist Gagan Narang, who has been mentoring Pooja said that she was grappling with a few aspects even during training over the last few days. Pooja’s first three cards read 101.5, 103.9 and 102.2. The impressive improvement was a bit late.

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In the event, Andrea Arsovic of Serbia won the gold with a score of 251.3, Romanian Georgeta-Laura Coman clinched silver with 249.7, while Xinyi Peng of China bagged the bronze after shooting 228.5.

For the host, a lot would be at stake on the morrow in men’s double trap, with Ankur Mittal, Sangram Dahiya and Shapath Bharadwaj ready to showcase their ability.