Swapnil Kusale shoots to gold in 50-metre rifle event

Talented junior Swapnil Kusale beat Chain Singh and Gagan Narang to the gold in the men’s 50-metre rifle prone event in the 59th National shooting championship at the Dr. Karni Singh Range, Tughlakabad, on Sunday.

Despite missing out on gold Gagan was happy with his qualification score of 627.2, which was close to his best of 627.8 shot in the World Cup in Fort Benning last year.   -  PTI

Talented junior Swapnil Kusale beat Chain Singh and Gagan Narang to the gold in the men’s 50-metre rifle prone event in the 59th National shooting championship at the Dr. Karni Singh Range, Tughlakabad, on Sunday.

The 20-year-old Swapnil, who has been with the Central Railway in Pune for about a year, was a class act as he warded off the threat from two of the best rifle shooters who have won Olympic quota place for the Rio Games in prone and three-position events.

Swapnil, who owes his rapid strides in recent times to coach Deepali Deshpande, said he was happy with the way he shot, both in the qualification in which he won the junior gold ahead of Ishan Goel and Akhil Sheoran with 623.8, and the final in the men’s event.

Swapnil had shot 605.2 in the last World Championship and 615.9 in the International Junior Cup in Suhl this year.

It was National Games gold medallist Chain who was leading after 16 shots in the final but Swapnil came up with shots of 10.5, 10.4 to get ahead by 0.9, which proved the difference in the end, as both the shooters had the same total of 20.1 on the last two shots.

Chain, trying a new kit, said that he was happy for the young lad and Gagan Narang echoed the sentiments that it would motivate the junior for the future.

In fact, Gagan was happy with his qualification score of 627.2 which was close to his best of 627.8 shot in the World Cup in Fort Benning last year. He had shot 626.3 on way to the bronze in the Fort Benning World Cup this year, and had shot 626.7 in the Gabala World Cup.

‘’It is just the beginning of the season. I didn’t have better ammunition. I am getting new rifles. Will be shooting the MQS in the Olympic quota competition next month’’, said Gagan, the Olympic and World Championship medallist.

On a lighter note, Gagan recalled that he had not won a medal in the last National championship and that he had fared better to be among the medals this time.

Defending champion Hariom Singh settled for the fourth place ahead of Ishan Goel, Surendra Singh Rathod and Sushil Ghaley (628.7) who had topped qualification, and Shamsher Singh Bhandari.

Former national champion Rakesh Manpat missed the final by 0.1 point, while Joydeep Karmakar who had placed fourth in the London Olympics was 12th with a total of 618.8.

Meanwhile, in the 25-metre rapid fire event, after the first stage, Neeraj Kumar and Aksha Suhas Ashtaputre led with 291, ahead of Wazeer Singh rathee (287), Gurpeet Singh (286), Harpreet Singh (285), while Ronak Pandit (283) and Olympic silver medallist Vijay Kumar (282) followed further down the order.

The results:

Men: 50m rifle prone: 1. Swapnil Kusale 206.4 (623.8); 2. Chain Singh 205.5 (623.4); 3. Gagan Narang 184.2 (627.2).

Juniors: 1. Swapnil Kusale (623.8); 2. Ishan Goel (621.0); 3. Akhil Sheoran (615.4).