Gaayathri Nithyanandam guns for better scores

In the arduous and physically demanding 50-metre rifle 3-position event, the 22-year-old was able to top both the trials in qualification with scores of 1174 and 1171.

Gaayathri Nithyanandam topped both the trials in the women's rifle 3-position event in a strong field of shooters.   -  Kamesh Srinivasan

Gaayathri Nithyanandam is a brilliant student, a topper in school and college, but when it comes to shooting and chasing better scores, she is second to none.

In the arduous and physically demanding 50-metre rifle 3-position event, the 22-year-old Gaayathri, a second year Masters student of International Business from the PSG College of Arts and Science in Coimbatore, was able to top both the trials in qualification with scores of 1174 and 1171.

She finished second in the second trial behind Olympic quota winner and world record holder Anjum Moudgil on Thursday, after having skipped the first final.

"The World Cup is going to be held here, and I thought I should try a similar format. We have elimination on the first day, followed by the qualification and final on the second day," reasoned Gaayathri, quite pleased to have met her target of shooting above 1170.

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She did shoot 1176 in the World Cup in Munich earlier this year, and missed the final. She was eventually upgraded to the eighth place as a Chinese who shot a world record was disqualified for doping. Otherwise, Gaayathri had been a bit disappointed with 1166 in the World Championship and 1148 in the Asian Games.

The significance of topping the two trials with such good scores can be understood better, as Gaayathri had missed the final in the National championship in Thiruvananthapuram, with a score of 1152.

"I had problem with the trigger assembly. My coach Satguru Das helped boost my confidence by saying that it was not my fault and I should just focus on shooting better scores in the trials. I changed the trigger assembly and I am happy to get back to shooting good scores," said Gaayathri, who aims to touch 1175 plus scores soon.

"If I shoot good scores I should get into the national team for the World Cup, and aim to get the Olympic quota place," said Gaayathri.

With Anjum Moudgil ineligible to win any more Olympic quota, the onus will be on Gaayathri to win the quota in the rifle 3-position event.

Despite finishing second in the final, Gaayathri felt that a few bad shots had pulled her down, and the score of 457.4 was quite satisfying.

"I have shot better scores in competition, and much better in training," she said about her ability to shoot big in the finals.

With her doting mother behind her for competition and with Olympic Gold Quest taking care of her from last year, Gaayathri who has won two individual medals in Junior World Cups, is ready to strike big in the international arena.