Shooting World Cup: Jitu wins bronze in 10m air pistol

The gold went to Japan’s Tomoyuki Matsuda with a world record total of 240.1 points, while Vietnam’s Xuan Vinh Hoang claimed silver with 236.6 points.

The ‘Champion of champions’ in the last World Cup Final in Bologna, the 29-year-old Jitu delighted the large gathering that kept cheering him with thunderous applause.

Jitu Rai gave a glimpse of his magical touch as he rose from the eighth place to clinch the bronze medal in men’s air pistol in the shooting World Cup at the Karni Singh Range, Tughlakabad, on Tuesday.

The ‘Champion of champions’ in the last World Cup Final in Bologna, the 29-year-old Jitu delighted the large gathering that kept cheering him with thunderous applause, before losing the race for a better medal to the reigning Olympic champion Xuan Vinh Hoang of Vietnam by 0.6 point.

Jitu who climbed past three Chinese including the former Asian Games champion Pu Qifeng, undid his dream run with an 8.6 last shot, after he had taken a 0.1 lead over the Rio Games champion, who sealed the fight with a 9.3.

The two-time World Champion Tomoyuki Matsuda of Japan, who has not won an Olympic medal yet, won his seventh World Cup gold by recording a 3.5 point victory over the Vietnamese.

"The crowd was clapping a lot when Jitu was doing so well. No problem for me, as the difference in points was big, to catch me", said the 41-year-old Matsuda.

After qualifying for the final in the seventh place despite a last shot of '9', for a modest total of 577, Jitu struggled to get his "timing and rhythm", in the 24-shot final.

Initial shots of 9.1 and 8.8 rattled the expectant fans, but Jitu stayed calm and composed throughout despite high and low shots.

After juggling between the seventh and sixth spot in the first 10 shots, Jitu avoided elimination by 0.5 point after 12.

Thereafter, he hung on with points ranging from 0.3 to 0.8 as he reached the third spot and confirmed a medal much to the disbelief of the crowd. He almost beat the Olympic champion, but the latter survived with a 9.3 last shot.

"When I shot badly initially, the pressure was gone. I just focused on the best I could do. I didn’t expect to do this well. I had won a bronze from the eighth place in a World Cup in Korea", recalled Jitu.

Jitu has two gold and three silver medals in World Cups, apart from a silver in the World Cup Final, a silver in the World Championship and the gold in the Asian Games.

He had made the Olympic final in Rio in air pistol, but was the first to exit and placed eighth. He conceded that he did not expect to make the final in the first place with the low score, as 580 was par for the course at that level.

Coach Pavel Smirnov said that it was the first step of preparation towards the Olympics in Tokyo, and said that Jitu was troubled by "tremor" in his shooting arm during the qualification phase.

While Omkar Singh struggled after losing precious time at the start to changing a 'leaking cylinder', and missed the final by three points with a last card of 92, Olympian Prakash Nanjappa asserted himself with the best score of 582 in the MQS section.

In fact, when Prakash finished his series of 97, 98, 97, 96, 96 and 98, there was a round of applause even as Jitu was aiming for his last shot with just over a minute left on the clock.

Meanwhile, in keeping with the fine trend of Indian shooters making the finals, Chain Singh qualified for the rifle prone event, but placed seventh. Gagan Narang, quite "baffled" by the tricky conditions shot 617.0 and missed the final by 1.8 point. Sushil Ghalay missed the final by 0.9 point.

Shooting in the MQS section, Sanjeev Rajput who had made the 3-position final, shot the best among the Indians with 619.2.

India was in the fifth place on the medals table with a silver and two bronze, while Japan jumped to the second spot with the two gold medals won on the day, as the prone gold was won by Toshikazu Yamashita.

China stayed on top with six gold and five silver medals, while Australia was third with two gold and Italy fourth with a gold and two silver.


The results:

Men: 10m air pistol: 1. Tomoyuki Matsuda (Jpn) 240.1 (WR) 578; 2. Xuan Vinh Hoang (Vie) 23.6 (581); 3. Jitu Rai 216.7 (577);; 14. Omkar Singh 574; 19. Amanpreet Singh 572. MQS: Prakash Nanjappa 582; Maninder Singh 567.

50m rifle prone: 1. Toshikazu Yamashita (Jpn) 249.8 (WR) 619.3; 2. Lu Yukun (Chn) 249.3 (WRJ) 624.5; 3. Daniel Romanczyk (Pol) 226.6 (619.1); 7. Chain Singh 141.9 (618.0); 12. Sushil Ghalay 617.9; 15. Gagan Narang 617.0. MQS: Sanjeev Rajput 619.2; Rahul Poonia 610.6.

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