Top Indian 10m air rifle shooter Rudrankksh Patil could have clinched a gold medal for the nation at the ongoing ISSF World Championships had he been sent for the event, after his scores in a simulated environment created at the Karni Singh Range here were better than the winner in Baku recently.
The champion shooter was left out of the 53-member Baku-bound squad as he had already secured a 2024 Paris Olympic quota place for the country last year.
However, given the potential of the teenage marksman to win medals at the upcoming Asian Games in Hangzhou and the Olympics next year, he was provided the same “competitive environment” as Baku right here at the Karni Singh Range so that he could “shoot in realtime” and assess his preparations for the two major competitions.
The teenage shooter, who secured a Paris Olympic quota place at the 2022 World Championships in Cairo, shot better than the gold medallist at Baku, and would have certainly added a medal to India’s tally.
India has six gold and eight bronze medals in Baku, an Olympic qualification event, and is currently placed second behind China.
The Indian shooters have no more events left in the competition which will officially conclude on September 1.
The exercise to bring Rudrankksh to Delhi from his hometown Pune was undertaken by the Sports Authority of India (SAI) and the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) to simulate the environment in Baku.
He shot 630 in the qualification round, which placed him sixth among eight shooters virtually who made it to the final of the air rifle event in Baku, Azerbaijan.
He then went on to shoot a superb 251.9 in the final, which was 0.6 better than Sweden’s Victor Lindgren, who clinched gold with a score of 251.3.
“It is a very good thing that I was called to Delhi to shoot in realtime with the shooters in Baku. This realtime competitive feel is very important for a shooter and this feel I got thanks to SAI and NRAI. I was shooting as per the ‘commands’ being given by the competition officials in Baku,” Rudrankksh told PTI on Saturday.
“I will really benefit from it during the Asian Games (at Hangzhou in September). This exercise was undertaken specially for me to get a feel of the competitive environment in Baku,” he added.
Rudrankksh was not a part of the Indian contingent for the ISSF World Championships as he had already secured a quota place for the country. As per the NRAI policy, if a shooter secures an Olympic quota, he or she is usually not included in the contingent to give other shooters the opportunity to earn more quota slots for the country.
A maximum of two quota places per shooting discipline can be earned in Olympic qualifying events such as the World Championships.
Rudrankksh has earned the first quota place in air rifle for the country, and India can still earn a second one during the qualification cycle.
However, none of the three Indian marksmen who went to Baku — Divyansk Singh Panwar, Aishwary Pratap Singh Tomar and Hriday Hazarika — could qualify for the eight-shooter final in 10m air rifle, and thus missed out on a second quota place.
On whether it was an opportunity wasted to win a second World Championships gold medal for Rudrankksh, his father Balasaheb Patil said, “He (Rudrankksh) already has an Olympic quota so he cannot participate as per the NRAI’s set policy.” Asked if the policy was restrictive and denied an Olympic medal hopeful the opportunity to participate in a highly-competitive pressure environment, Patil said, “I would not comment on that as it is a declared policy (of the NRAI)“.
“He was called to Delhi and was made to shoot in realtime at Karni Singh Range. During the simulation exercise, he topped all the shooters in Baku, which is very good preparation for him ahead of the Asian Games,” said Patil.
“He was in sixth place as per the World Championships score in Baku with a score of 630, which would have earned him a spot in the eight-shooter final. And then he went on to top. There were several other top national-level shooters who were lined up to simulate the competitive environment for Rudrankksh... the entire exercise was to give him a complete feel of the event in Baku.”
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