Jitu Rai wins silver in ISSF World Cup

It was Rai's sixth World Cup medal and second this year after winning one in Bangkok. He is seen as one of India's biggest medal prospects at the upcoming Rio Olympics.

Jitu Rai will be seen performing at Rio Olympics in August.   -  PTI

World Championship silver medallist, Asian Games and Commonwealth Games gold medallist, Jitu Rai further consolidated his pursuit of an Olympic medal by clinching the silver in air pistol, half a point behind Felipe Almeida Wu of Brazil in the shooting World Cup in Baku, Azerbaijan, on Saturday.

It was the second medal in a World Cup this season for the 28-year-old Jitu who had won the free pistol gold in the first World Cup in Bangkok. He has so far won two gold, three silver and a bronze in the World Cups, in the last three years. Qualifying with a modest score of 580, a score which saw four shooters miss the cut, Jitu led after 10 shots in the final, before slowly losing his advantage.

Shots of 9.1 and 9.6 towards the end saw him slip to the silver, despite a resounding 10.6 on the last shot. In the process, Jitu pushed the free pistol gold medallist Jin Jongoh of Korea_the two-time World Champion who has won five medals in the last three Olympics including three gold_to the bronze by 0.5 point.

It was only the third World Cup medal this season for Indian shooting. Mairaj Ahmad Khan had won the silver in skeet in the Rio World Cup apart from the two medals by Jitu. In women’s 25-metre sports pistol, overnight leader Heena Sidhu followed up her 296 in the precision stage with a 286 in the rapid fire section. However, in the semifinals, the air pistol specialist and world record holder was unable to assert her new found improvement.

Two other shooters who had shot 582 like Heena in qualification, Antoaneta Boneva of Bulgaria and Kim Jangmi of Korea won the gold and bronze respectively as they overcame shoot-offs in the semifnals. In men’s double trap, Ankur Mittal shot 137 and missed the final by one point.

The 24-year-old Ankur, Asian champion in 2014, missed a double towards the end of the fifth round and thus lost out on a well-deserved berth in the knock-out phase, as he shot a series of 28, 29, 26, 28 and 26. He had shot a career best 144 in the Munich World Cup two years ago.

The results:

Men: 10m air pistol: 1. Felipe Almeida Wu (Bra) 200.0 (580); 2. Jitu Rai 199.5 (580); 3. Jin Jongoh (Kor) 178.8 (586); 28. Omkar Singh 575;42. Gurpreet Singh 569. MQS: Prakash Nanjappa 563.

Double trap: 1. William Chetcuti (Mlt) 28(2) 29 (138); 2. Marco Innocenti (Ita) 28(1) 29 (139); 3. Mo Junjie (Chn) 28 (28) 139; 4. Artem Nekrasov (Rus) 26 (28) 138; 9. Ankur Mittal 137; 14. Sangram Dahiya 135; 15. Mohd. Asab 134. MQS: Sanjay Rathore 130.

Women: 25m sports pistol: 1. Antoaneta Boneva (Bul) 7 (16)5 (582); 2. Anna Korakaki (Gre) 5 (17) 584; 3. Kim Jangmi (Kor) 8 (14) 582; 4. Chen Ying (Chn) 0 (16)2 (581); 8. Heena Sidhu 6 (582); 32. Anisa Sayyed 572; 34. Surabhi Pathak 571.