Medals continue to elude the Indians

Sanjeev Rajput and Harveen Srao made the finals in the men’s rifle 3-position and women’s air pistol events respectively, but the medals continued to elude the Indian grasp in the shooting World Cup.

Sanjeev Rajput showed courage to put up a strong fight in a classy field.   -  Kamesh Srinivasan

Sanjeev Rajput and Harveen Srao made the finals in the men’s rifle 3-position and women’s air pistol events respectively, but the medals continued to elude the Indian grasp in the shooting World Cup at the Dr. Karni Singh Range, Tughlakabad, on Sunday.

On a day when the two shooters who had competed in the Rio Olympics, Heena Sidhu and Chain Singh, narrowly missed making the finals, the host could not capitalise on the home advantage.

After Pooja Ghatkar won the women’s air rifle bronze in the first final on the opening day, the Indian shooters have made the final of every event so far, except women’s trap, over three days, but have not been able to strike when it counts.

The 36-year-old Sanjeev, who has won a gold and two silver medals in World Cups and has been twice Asian champion in the event, looked set to arrest the trend as he briskly marched towards the medal during the 30 shots of kneeling and prone during the final.

However, Sanjeev who had pipped compatriot Chain Singh for the last spot in the final with a modest score of 1159, slipped to the sixth spot after 10 shots in the standing position, when air rifle silver medallist Peter Sidi and Pan Junhui of China bowed out. He edged ahead of the Japanese Toshikazu Yamashita, but was pushed to the fifth spot by 0.1 point by Napis Tortungpanich of Thailand.

After having missed out on the Rio Olympics despite having won the Olympic quota, and experiencing personal turmoil thereafter, Sanjeev showed courage to put up a strong fight in a classy field in which Hui Zicheng won his sixth World Cup in a spectacular fashion, beating compatriot Sun Jian.

Interestingly, Hui had trailed in the fifth spot after the kneeling and prone phase of the final, but caught up dramatically in the climax, winding up with a brilliant 10.6 on the last shot.

Chain Singh was in the reckoning with rounds of 390 out of 400 in kneeling and prone, but the wind shook him in the standing position and pushed him down to 377.

Two-time World University champion Harveen Srao was equally impressive as she squeezed her way into the final with a 379 in women’s air pistol, but lacked the experience to strike in the climax.

The bronze medallist in the junior category at the World Championship in 2006, the 30-year-old Harveen was handicapped for lack of experience in the finals. It was only her second final in a World Cup after the one in Fort Benning in 2007. She had finished fourth in the Asian Games in Doha in 2006.

Heena Sidhu had all the experience, but struggled in the qualification phase with rounds of 95, 94, 94 and 95, that saw her miss the final by one point. Her world record was bound to go owing to the new format, but Heena was expected to fight for a medal particularly in the light of having focused only on air pistol and skipping the 25-metre sports pistol.

The Chinese asserted themselves by winning five gold medals out of seven, with Lin Yuemei beating the reigning Olympic champion Zhang Mengxue by three points, for the air pistol gold.

China was on top of the medals table with five gold and four silver, while Italy and Australia were the only other teams to bag a gold so far. India was on a par in the fifth place with Azerbaijan, Spain, Finland, Japan, Singapore and Switzerland with a bronze.

In the mixed trap competition, Seema Tomar (40) and Kynan Chenai (47) finished 10th and missed the final by three points. Zoravar Singh Sandhu shot 49 out of 50, but with Manisha Keer (33) he was placed 14th with a total of 82.

In the test event that is being recommended for Olympic entry in Tokyo 2020, China won the gold through Wang Xiaojing and Yu Shuo, who beat Natalie Rooney and Owen Robinson of New Zealand 25-21. The Italian pair of Valerio Grazini and Alesia Iezzi won the bronze by beating Alberto Fernandez and Fatima Galvez of Spain 28-21.

The results:

Men: 50m rifle 3-position: 1. Hui Zicheng (Chn) 454.2 (1176); 2. Sun Jian (Chn) 451.6 (1177); 3. Jan Lochbihler (Sui) 44.2 (1163); 5. Sanjeev Rajput 420.6 (1159); 9. Chain Singh 1157; 13. Satyendra Singh 1154. MQS: Akhil Sheoran 1155.

Women: 10m air pistol: 1. Lin Yuemei (Chn) 248.8 (WR) 380; 2. Zhang Mengxue (Chn) 237.8 (380); 3. Shun Xie Teo (Sgp) 217.4 (380); 7. Harveen Srao 133.6 (379); 11. Heena Sidhu 378; 36. Priyanka Susvirkar 364. MQS: Yasha Singh 378.