Shooting World Cup: Pooja Ghatkar gets India off to a medal start

Pooja Ghatkar gave a robust start for the host by winning the women’s air rifle bronze medal in the shooting World Cup at the Dr. Karni Singh Range, Tughlakabad, on Friday.

Pooja Ghatkar was pleased with the way she handled the challenge, and achieved her dream of winning a World Cup medal at home

Pooja Ghatkar gave a robust start for the host by winning the women’s air rifle bronze medal in the shooting World Cup at the Dr. Karni Singh Range, Tughlakabad, on Friday. On a day when three world records were set, two by the Chinese Song Buhan and Shi Mengyao, and one by Leetisha Scanlan of Australia, basically owing to a revised format, it was difficult to ignore the manner in which Pooja tackled the Chinese in the climax after having qualified in the second place with a total of 418.0.

Having been mentored by Gagan Narang for the last few months, Pooja was ready for the challenge. However, she was not prepared to tackle a tricky situation, when she was troubled by a torn “blinder” midway through the final, which forced her to physically close her non focusing eye during the shots.

The former Asian champion who had missed the Olympic quota for Rio by a whisker put up a brave fight, with shots of 10.6, 10.8 and 10.7 at the crunch, much to the delight of the spectators, before missing the chance for a better medal by 0.3 point. “I am happy, but not that happy,” said Pooja, as she acknowledged the fact that she could have fared better.

Credit to Gagan

She was pleased with the way she handled the challenge, and achieved her dream of winning a World Cup medal at home, which she had nursed ever since it was first announced that Delhi would host.

Conceding that World Championship and Olympic medallist Gagan had played a big part in tuning her, both technically and mentally, Pooja said she was able to execute well, keeping an open mind and removing the clutter from her head about past performances. “She was struggling in the matches. She handled the match well both in qualification and the final today,” said Gagan, understandably proud about the crisp and courageous execution.

Pooja had almost caused a coup when she caught up with Dong Lijie with a 10.7 penultimate shot, after trailing by 1.1 point, but the Chinese matched Pooja’s 10.3 on the 22nd shot to eventually take the silver. The gold was a foregone conclusion as Shing Mengyao ran away with it with a world record 252.1.

The men’s air rifle offered a lot of hope, but Deepak Kumar stumbled at the business end after a spectacular performance that entertained the big gathering, while Ravi Kumar slipped early and finished eighth. Song Buhan of China pipped the versatile Peter Sidi of Hungary to the gold by 0.4 point.

In women’s trap, the stiff winds took it away as Rajeshwari Kumari slipped from a perfect 25 in the first round to 21 and 18 thereafter in missing the final by two points. The final was very demanding with gusty winds and a delayed start, but the young Penny Smith of Australia clinched the gold two points ahead of London Olympics gold medallist and three-time World Champion Jessica Rossi of Italy, in a 50-shot final.

Incidentally, Jessica won a six-way tie for the last slot in the final in the shoot-off, after having shot 66 in the qualification. In men’s trap, Zoravar Singh Sandhu was at No.6 after three rounds with a total of 70, following rounds of 23, 24 and 23. Alberto Fernandez of Spain was leading with a perfect score of 75. Two more rounds will be followed by the final on Saturday.

Birendeep Sodhi (66) and Kynan Chenai (64) were not at their best in the windy conditions, whereas former World Champion and six-time Asian champion Manavjit Sandhu (71) could fare better in the MQS section. Prithviraj Tondaiman was on 65 in the MQS.

The results:

Men:

10m air rifle: 1. Song Buhan (Chn) 249.5 (WR) 624.4; 2. Peter Sidi (Hun) 249.1 (623.7); 3. Atsushi Shimada (Jpn) 227.4 (628.2); 5. Deepak Kumar 185.4 (625.8); 8. Ravi Kumar 122.0 (624.0); 16. Satyendra Singh 621.1. MQS: Hriday Hazarika 619.3; Akhil Sheoran 618.2.

Women:

10m air rifle: 1. Shi Mengyao (Chn) 252.1 (WR) 418.6; 2. Dong Lijie (Chn) 248.9 (417.7); 3. Pooja Ghatkar 228.8 (418.0); 16. Meghana Sajjanar 413.3; 20. Vinita Bhardwaj 412.3. MQS: Anjum Moudgil 417.5; Apurvi Chandela 413.4.

Trap: 1. Penny Smith (Aus) 40 (WR) 68; 2. Jessica Rossi (Ita) 38 (66); 3. Mopsi Veromaa (Fin) 27 (68); 17. Rajeshwari Kumari 64; 22. Seema Tomar 60; 29. Manisha Keer 51. MQS: Shreyasi Singh 63; Shagun Chowdhary 61.