World Cup Final: Heena-Jitu duo clinches gold

Jitu Rai and Heena Sidhu finished with 483.4 points, ahead of France's Ceine Goberville and Florian Fouquet

Heena Sidhu and Jitu Rai finished ahead of the French team to win the gold medal.   -  Special Arrangement

The much awaited golden start for India materialised as Jitu Rai and Heena Sidhu shot their best in the climax to clinch the mixed air pistol gold in the World Cup Final at the Karni Singh range in Tughlakabad on Tuesday.

The otherwise subdued audience erupted to life as Jitu Rai shot the perfect 10.9 twice to lift the team forward at a crucial stage, ahead of France, that saw India eventually prevail by 2.3 points.

“Both of us had slow start, but once we found the rhythm we kept getting better,’’ said Heena, quite pleased with her second gold in the World Cup, following the individual gold in women’s air pistol with a world record in 2013.

After having topped qualification in the eight-team field with 767, one point ahead of France, it was a reassuring fare from two of the best pistol shooters of the country.

“Shooting second, I had a lot of time to prepare for my shots’’, said Jitu, who had won the free pistol silver in the last edition of the World Cup Final.

Interestingly, it was the third gold this season for Jitu and Heena as a pair, after their two golden efforts in the World Cups, including the first at the same venue in February.

Heena was honest to concede that she was not happy with the scores, but emphasised that the climax could not have been better.

“This was the best final we had shot, including training’’, Heena said.

The president of the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI), Raninder Singh, was pleased with the result and said that the introduction of the mixed events in the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 could be a boon for India.

 

The title was worth 1200 Swiss francs each for the two Indian shooters, who also received the trophies apart from the gold medals.

The other Indian team of Deepak Kumar and Meghana Sajjanar, in action this day in the mixed air rifle event, breached the rules and was docked two points which proved costly.

Ironically, the Indian team finished fourth, two points behind the second Chinese team, after having edged ahead of the Iran in a shoot-off following a tie for the fifth place.

As per the rules, during the final, the shooter on the left in a team has to shoot first. This format was being introduced for the first time, and the Indian team was caught napping.

The Chinese took the gold and bronze, while Serbia clinched the silver.

In mixed trap, in which India did not qualify to field a team, the seasoned pair of Jessica Rossi and Giovanni Pellielo of Italy was beaten to the gold medal by the Spaniards Beatriz Martinez and Antonio Bailon 42-40, while the qualification topper Australia was the first to be eliminated in the six-team final.

 

The results:

Mixed air pistol: 1. India (Jitu Rai, Heena Sidhu) 483.4 (767); 2. France (Florian Fouquet, Celine Goberville) 481.1 (766); 3. China (Cai Xiaoxue, Yang Wei) 418.2 (764).

Mixed air rifle: 1. China-1 (Wu Mingyang, Song Buhan) 499.8 (836.4); 2. Serbia (Milutin Stefanovic, Andrea Arsovic) 496.8 (829.8); 3. China-2 (Shi Mengyao, Sui Gengcheng) 430.3 (837.3); 4. India (Deepak Kumar, Meghana Sajjanar) 387.4 (829.0).

Mixed trap: 1. Spain-1 (Beatriz Martinez, Antonio Bailon) 42 (139)(1,3); 2. Italy-2 (Jessica Rossi, Giovanni Pellielo) 40 (139)2; 3. US-1 (Ashley Carroll, Derek Haldeman) 31 (139)(1,4).