Sanjeev Rajput clinches Rio Olympics ticket

On a dramatic day when overnight leader Angad Vir Singh Bajwa (118) missed the final in men’s skeet by one point, and possibly one of the four quota places on offer, the 35-year-old Sanjeev asserted his class, both in qualification and the final.

Sanjeev Rajput in action during the 50m Rifle three position men's final event of the Asia Olympic Qualifying competition.   -  Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

Olympian Sanjeev Rajput provided a fitting climax by clinching the men’s rifle 3-position quota place in the Asia Olympic qualifying shooting competition at the Dr. Karni Singh Range, Tughlakabad, on Tuesday.

On a dramatic day when overnight leader Angad Vir Singh Bajwa (118) missed the final in men’s skeet by one point, and possibly one of the four quota places on offer, the 35-year-old Sanjeev asserted his class, both in qualification and the final.

Sanjeev qualified in fourth place with a total of 1163. He had faltered in the standing position, with 375 out of 400, in losing a better position. However, he settled the issue with a solid performance during the ‘prone’ phase of the 45-shot final.

“There was a lot of pressure, and I am very happy,” said Sanjeev, who had qualified for the London Olympics by winning the World Cup gold with a national record score of 1176.

The equation worked out nicely in his favour once Sanjeev made the final this day, as three of the eight finalists had already won quota places. There were two other Koreans, of whom only one could get a quota.

As it transpired, one of the Koreans struggled with his target, even in the prone position, for whatever technical reasons that were tough to fathom, and some of his shots did not register any score.

The two Koreans could not win the Olympic quota and crashed out after 40 shots, which ensured the quota for Sanjeev, Vitaly Dovgun (fifth place) of Qatar and Napis Tortungpanch (sixth place) of Thailand.

It was the fourth quota for India, following the ones won by Heena Sidhu, Kynan Chenai and Ayonika Paul at the Asian competition, which was introduced as a replacement for the Asian Championship in Kuwait that had its Olympic qualification status revoked by the IOC.

India has 12 Olympic quota places, as compared to last time’s 11, with the earlier eight having been secured by Jitu Rai, Apurvi Chandela, Gagan Narang, Abhinav Bindra, Chain Singh, Prakash Nanjappa and Mairaj Ahmad Khan.

There was a strong possibility of a second Olympic quota from skeet, but it was hard on the 20-year-old Angad Vir Bajwa, as he lacked the experience to handle a stage of this magnitude in which even the best struggled.

After shooting two perfect rounds of 25 overnight, Angad returned scores of 23, 23 and 22 for a total of 118.

Three-time world champion and two-time Asian Games gold medallist, Abdullah Alrashidi of Kuwait, competing as an Independent Shooting Participant (ISP), as Kuwait has been suspended by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), got the Olympic quota with a score of 119.

In fact, one more from Kuwait, Saud Habib, got the Olympic quota with a silver medal behind Saif Bin Futtais of the UAE who had already secured the Olympic quota. Saeed Almaktoum of the UAE beat compatriot Mohamed Ahmad to get the bronze and the second Olympic quota for his country in the event. Fifth-placed Rashid Hamad of Qatar, who was placed second in qualification with a 122, also got the Olympic quota.

Results:

Men: 50m rifle 3-position: 1. Kim Jonghyun (Kor) 461.4 (1156); 2. Yuriy Yurkov (Kaz) 451.7 (1164); 3. Toshikazu Yamashita (Jpn) 439.9 (1170); 4. Sanjeev Rajput 429.5 (1163); 16. Surendra Sinh Rathod 1148; 20. Satyendra Singh 1145. MQS: Chain Singh 1171; Swapnil Kusale 1169.

Skeet: 1. Saif Bin Futtais (UAE) 13 (16) 123; 2. Saud Habib (ISP) 12 (16) 121; 3. Saeed Almaktoum (UAE) 15 (15) 121; 4. Mohamed Ahmad (UAE) 14 (15) 121; 5. Rashid Hamad (Qat) 14 (122); 6. Abdullah Alrashidi (ISP) 12 (119); 8. Angad Vir Singh Bajwa 118; 17. Man Singh 116; 25. Amrinder Cheema 112. MQS: Sheeraz Sheikh 114; Smit Singh 113.

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