Pistol shooter Sarabjot Singh is happy that he has finally won an individual medal in a major international competition after grappling with a shoulder injury for more than six months.
The 22-year-old marksman clinched an individual bronze and with it, a 2024 Paris Olympic quota place for India at the Asian Championships in Changwon, South Korea, on Tuesday.
Sarabjot shot 221.1 in the final to finish behind the Chinese duo of Zhang Yifan (gold, 243.7) and Liu Jinyao (242.1) to earn the eighth Olympic quota place for the country in shooting and the first in pistol events.
Indian men and women shooters have won five quota places in rifle, two in shotgun and one in pistol events so far.
Sarabjot, who bagged the men’s team gold and mixed team silver at the Hangzhou Asian Games recently, picked up the shoulder injury during the ISSF World Cup in Bhopal in March this year but is happy it is on the mend.
“I developed the injury during the World Cup in Bhopal. It was an impingement injury as my shoulder blade was rubbing against my collarbone, causing discomfort” Sarabjot told PTI from Changwon.
A shoulder impingement is caused by the constant rubbing of the bones in the shoulder region, resulting in swelling, which causes pain and irritation. Several pistol shooters suffer from the impingement syndrome.
“It happened over a period of time as we do only exercises specific to holding the pistol steady, which weakens the other muscles,” said Sarabjot, who missed an individual bronze at the Asian Games, finishing fourth.
Sarabjot said he is still carrying the injury, though it has improved with physiotherapy.
“Yes, it’s on the mend, and I hope to overcome it soon.” On whether there was pressure on him to earn an Olympic quota as no pistol shooter had bagged one since the Paris qualification cycle began a year ago, Sarabjot said, “It is good that I have earned the first pistol quota for the country.” A score of 581 in the qualification round is counted as an average score in 10m air pistol, but Sarabjot, a junior World Championships gold medallist in the team event, said it isn’t the case.
Sarabjot shot 581 to barely scrape through into the eight-shooter finals on the basis of higher ‘inner 10s’ (closest to bullseye) after he was tied with five others at eighth position.
“It’s not an average score, though my personal best of 589 in qualification came at the ISSF World Cup in Baku earlier this year,” he said.
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