Shooting World Cup: Jitu Rai wins gold, silver for Amanpreet Singh

Jitu Rai overcame the swings of fortune for a dramatic gold in the 50-metre free pistol, beating compatriot and qualification leader Amanpreet Singh by 3.2 points.

Jitu Rai (centre) with silver medallist Amanpreet Singh (left) and bronze medallist Vahid Golkhandan of Iran.   -  Kamesh Srinivasan

Jitu Rai cast another spell of magic on the adoring fans as he overcame the swings of fortune for a dramatic gold in the 50-metre free pistol, beating compatriot and qualification leader Amanpreet Singh by 3.2 points, in the Shooting World Cup at the Dr. Karni Singh Range, Tughlakabad, on Wednesday.

After struggling with a 6.6 and 7.4 in the first ten shots that meant a weak foundation for the onslaught of medals in the 24-shot final, the 29-year-old Jitu, who had earlier won the air pistol bronze in an equally lively fashion, came alive with telling blows that floored a good field.

Jitu rose from the sixth spot in a brisk fashion, while Amanpreet Singh stayed glued to the top spot with a consistently strong string. However, after he had enjoyed an 8.6 point lead over Jitu after 12
shots, Amanpreet came under pressure in the climax. Four-time world champion and air pistol gold medallist Tomoyuki Matsuda slipped to the fourth spot after looking good for the silver, and Amanpreet let the lead slip to 0.3 point following a 7.2 and 8.5.

'Happy'

It was here that Jitu served the knockout punch with shots of 10.0 and 10.5 while Amanpreet could muster only 8.8 and 8.2 on the last two shots. "I am very happy with this gold. Good or bad shots, I always focus on the next shot and try to do my best," said Jitu.

He also recalled the manner in which he had won the Asian Games gold in Incheon in 2014. "At that time I thought I had no chance for the gold, But, the leader shot 5, and I won the gold. It is possible in 50 metres," said Jitu, who had won the mixed air pistol gold with Heena Sidhu earlier.

The gold may have slipped, but the talented Amanpreet, an ONGC employee, who has been guided by the Commonwealth Games hero Samaresh Jung diligently, was thrilled to win his maiden medal in a World Cup. Amanpreet, who only had an Asian championship junior silver in 2007 in Kuwait to show so far, was happy with the quality of shooting both in qualification and final.

Jitu heartily praised Amanpreet for the excellent fare in the final, and stressed that it was his own rich experience that had helped him prevail in the climax. Olympian Prakash Nanjappa topped the scoring chart once again, with 564 in MQS, the way he had done earlier in air pistol. He observed that the Olympic preparation had really opened his eyes to the nuances of the sport and pledged to take the overall standard high.

Gurpal Singh, the third shooter in the team, shot 549 and missed the final by one point.

In women’s skeet, the Indian shooters Rashmee Rathore (66), Arti Singh (63) and Saniya Sheikh (60) failed to make the final. Three-time Olympic champion and former world champion, who has won an Olympic medal in all her six appearances in the last six Olympics, Kimberly Rhode of the U.S., won her 14th World Cup gold, by beating Sutiya Jewchaloemmit of Thailand, 56-51.

In women’s sports pistol also, the Indian shooters failed to make the final, with Muskan (576) missing it by three points, despite a 290 in "duelling". Another Thai, Naphaswan Yangpaiboon, clinched the sports pistol gold eight points ahead of the reigning World Champion Zhang Jingjing of China. The Thai had ensured the gold with a big lead, even before taking the last series of five shots.

China was on top with six gold and six silver, while Japan and Australia followed with two golds each. India was in the fourth spot with a gold, two silver and two bronze, its best collection in a World
Cup.

In men’s skeet, after three rounds, Sheeraz Sheikh (72) and Angad Vir Singh Bajwa (71) were close to the leaders, with Paul Adams of Australia topping with 75, while Olympian Mairaj Ahmad Khan slipped to 69 following a 21 in the second round. Two more rounds will be followed by the final on Thursday.

The results:

Men:
50m free pistol: 1. Jitu Rai 230.1 (WR) 559; 2. Amanpreet Singh 226.9 (561); 3. Vahid Golkhandan (Iri) 208.0 (553); 12. Gurpal Singh 549. MQS: Prakash Nanjappa 564; Om Prakash Mitharval 549.

Women:
25m sports pistol: 1. Naphaswan Yangpaiboon (Tha) 38 (579); 2. Zhang JIngjing (Chn) 30 (584); 3. Michelle Skeries (Ger) 27 (583); 12. Muskan 576; 21. Rahi Sarnobat 571; 24. Surabhi Pathak 570. MQS: Annu Raj Singh 565.

Skeet: 1. Kimberly Rhode (US) 56 (WR) 73; 2. Sutiya Jewchaloemmit (Tha) 51 (73); 3. Chloe Tipple (Nzl) 42 (71); 17.Rashmee Rathore 66; 24. Arti Singh 63; 27. Saniya Sheikh 60. MQS: Jasmeen Kaur 66; Ganemat Sekhon 58.