A 16-0 scoreline in a gold medal match, a shooter forgetting to fire and an Olympian registering a rare sub-90 series to lose out on a podium opportunity – the opening day of the first-ever ISSF World Cup at Bhopal had all the ingredients of a budget drama.
The Indian team, in its backyard, became the first team to win gold in the men’s 10m air pistol event. Sarabjot Singh bagged his first-ever senior ISSF gold medal while Varun Tomar, the cousin of the now-forgotten Saurabh Chaudhary, took home bronze.
Sarabjot did Ruslan Lunev in with a bagel in the gold medal match, besting him in only eight shots. Even when it finally seemed Sarabjot’s opponent from Azerbaijan would go home with at least two points after all, having shot a 10.4, the Ambala-born shooter hammered in a climactic 10.9.
That the long-awaited perfect score came only off the final shot, sent the audience into raptures.
“I always had it on my mind that I need to win something for India. I just trust my process. When I was on 10-0, I thought I could go for the remaining three shots as well. I am trying to make the upcoming Asian Games and World Championship team. The failure in Cairo motivated me to work on my physical fitness and mental makeup,” said Sarabjot, who had finished fourth in the individual and fifth in the mixed team event at the Egyptian capital.
Earlier at the newly-constructed final hall of the MP State Shooting Academy, the Chinese contingent had a major but brief meltdown after one of its shooters forgot to fire the last shot of his fourth series.
The otherwise silent China dugout, kept on screaming reminders, even as an in-the-zone World No.6 Jie Zhang remained oblivious to his surroundings.
The clock ran down on him and it was only in the dying moments of the timed series that Zhang realised he had had a rare brain fade. The 30-year-old stood sixth in the final leaderboard.
In the qualification round, Sarabjot ended with the second-highest score of 585-27x but eventually claimed the pole position as top-scorer Shiva Narwal (585-30x) was shooting for RPO (Ranking Points Only).
Varun (579-16x), 10th on standings, was the last person to qualify in the top eight as three RPO shooters – Narwal, Xu Zhanyi (583-19x) and Arjun Singh Cheema (579-18x) - had pocketed higher scores.
No Indian woman could bag a medal on the first day of events. Manu Bhaker, 16th with 568-19x, shot four 8s and three 9s in the third qualification series to manage only 89.
A 93 in the penultimate series could only mean she was set to be shown the door. Rhythm Sangwan, another medal hopeful, finished 13th with 572-19x. TS Dhivya, third in qualification, with 579-21x, came fifth in the final. Li Xue and Qian Wei completed a Chinese one-two with German star Doreen Vennekamp, having to settle for the silver medal after losing by a 17-5 margin in the gold medal match.
10m air pistol men: Gold – Sarabjot Singh (IND), Silver – Ruslan Lunev (AZE), Bronze – Varun Tomar (IND)
10m air pistol women: Gold - Li Xue (CHN), Silver - Doreen Vennekamp (GER), Bronze - Qian Wei (CHN)
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