Shooting Nationals: Hat-trick for Elizabeth Koshy

The 21-year-old Elizabeth who agonisingly missed out on an Olympic berth when she placed ninth in the Munich World Cup earlier this year, was a class act in the final today, beating Anjum Moudgil once again for the gold, with a new final national record of 459.3.

Elizabeth Susan Koshy won the women’s 50-metre rifle 3-position gold for the third time.   -  S. Gopakumar

Elizabeth Susan Koshy performed a hat-trick as she won the women’s 50-metre rifle 3-position gold for the third time with a dominant performance in the 59th National shooting championship at the Dr. Karni Singh Range, Tughlakabad, on Friday.

The 21-year-old Elizabeth who agonisingly missed out on an Olympic berth when she placed ninth in the Munich World Cup earlier this year, was a class act in the final today, as she beat Anjum Moudgil once again for the gold, with a new final national record of 459.3. She bettered her score of 452.0 that she had shot in the national championship at the same venue in 2013.

Except for the first series of five shots in kneeling when the National junior champion N. Gaayathri led ahead of her, Elizabeth led throughout the 45-shot final, as she beat qualification topper Anjum by 10.5 points. She had beaten the Chandigarh girl last year in Pune as well, by a four-point margin.

Even though she had shot 578 in qualification and was third behind Anjum and former national champion Meena Kumari, the Kerala girl was able to assert herself in the final, in which Tejaswini Sawwant, Tejaswini Muley, Meena Kumari, Raj Chaudhary and KC Hema finished fourth to eighth in that order.

Perhaps, the good behaviour of the spectators who did not make a noise despite repeated pleas to do so by the officials, as the new rules allow all sorts of music and noise during the finals, helped Elizabeth focus on the target well. If she recaptures such form during the Asian Olympic qualification event in January at the same venue, Elizabeth will have a fair chance for a shot at Rio.

The young Gaayathri who has been shooting well in recent months, kept pace with Elizabeth till the 30 shots in the prone and kneeling positions. Eventually, shedrifted down in the more demanding, standing position.

World Cup silver medallist and the bronze medallist of the last edition, Laja Gauswami shot 571 and missed the final by two points. Former champion and three-time Olympian, Anjali Bhagwat shot 573 and missed the final on the basis of lesser number of inner-10s.

In men’s 10-metre air rifle, former World and Olympic champion Abhinav Bindra shot 626.9 to lead Chain Singh by 3.1 points in the overall standings with more shooters including Gagan Narang to shoot before the final on Saturday evening.

Sanjeev Rajput who was also in the same batch as Bindra this morning had 623.2. Both won a spontaneous round of applause when they finished their match.

Abhinav Bindra had announced that he would not be competing in the final owing to other commitments. He said 628 would have been better but conceded that it was a fair score in the given circumstances. He also hinted that he may not participate in the Asian Olympic qualification next month.

The results:-

Women: 50m rifle 3-position: 1. Elizabeth Susan Koshy 459.3 (NR) 578; 2. Anjum Moudgil 448.8 (581); 3. N. Gaayathri 435.6 (575).

Juniors: 1. N. Gaayathri 575; 2. Aditi Singh 570; 3. Shreya 567.