Gold Medals: After having to stay quiet on the first two days, India’s top guns- a couple of teenagers among them, stormed the Chinese Shooting and Archery Administration Center on Thursday, winning three of the four gold medals up for grabs on the penultimate day of the ongoing International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup Final (WCF) Rifle/Pistol in Putian, China. Never before had India won three gold medals in the annual ISSF showpiece.
Manu Bhaker, Elavenil Valarivan and Divyansh Singh Panwar’s exploits, meant that India finished the day right at the top of the medals tally with hosts China now trying to play catch-up with two gold medals to their name.
Leading the pack was Manu Bhaker who started the proceeding on Thursday by demolishing a classy field to nail her first WCF gold, winning the Women’s 10m Air Pistol. She was followed by Elavenil’s scintillating pillar to earn victory in the Women’s 10m Air Rifle before Divyansh Singh Panwar, took out the best Air Rifle exponents in the world for a thrilling 0.1 point victory in the Men’s 10m Air Rifle.
Manu had a tight qualification round and was behind at the start of the finals as well. She took the lead after the 11thshot of the 24-shot final and then kept getting stronger to finish a massive 2.8 points ahead of silver winning Serbian and two-time former world champion Zorana Arunovic.
Manu’s score in the final was 244.7. Reigning Asian Games champion Wang Qian of China won bronze.
It was then the turn of Elavenil Valarivan, who first returned a solid 631.1 in qualification to finish second overall quite comfortably. In the final, she took the lead from the first 5-shot series itself to never surrender it and despite a 9.4 on her 23rdshot which gave Chinese Taipei’s Lin Ying-Shin a sniff of a chance, closed out with a 10.4 to win by 0.1. Ela shot 250.8 on the day to Lin’s 250.7.
Here too, a second Indian on her maiden WCF outing, Mehuli Ghosh, reached the final but finished sixth. Apurvi Chandela and Anjum Moudgil, the third and fourth Indians who made the cut for this event, could not progress beyond the qualification rounds.
Finally, it was Divyansh Singh Panwar who too savoured a narrowest possible 0.1-point victory in his Men’s 10m Air Rifle final over Hungarian star Istvan Peni, but his was a more closely contested final than Ela’s.
Divyansh was placed third after the first two 5-shot series and only took the lead after the 12thshot. After that he had an exhilarating battle with Peni with the lead changing hands at least a couple of times.
Going into the 24thand final shot, the difference between the two was 0.5 with Divyansh ahead. Peni shot a 10.5 but Divyansh’s 10.1 was enough to give him gold.
There was also the Men’s 10m Air Pistol final on the day and here too both Indians in the field, Abhishek Verma and Saurabh Chaudhary reached the finals. Abhishek in-fact topped qualifying with a 588. They however finished fifth and sixth respectively with China’s Pang Wei winning gold.
It was to bring the curtain down on a truly historic day for Indian sport shooting. Friday, the final day of the Putian WCF has the two Mixed Team events on schedule with India searching for more medals.