Pooja Ghatkar overcame technical issues to clinch the women’s 10m air rifle bronze medal as hosts India opened their account on a positive note in the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup on Friday in New Delhi.
Deepak Kumar, competing in his maiden World Cup, gave a good account of himself and finished fifth in men’s 10m air rifle final with a score of 185.4, while Ravi Kumar was placed eighth with 122.0 after having made the cut for the eight-man final. They were fourth and sixth in the qualification.
In the women’s trap event, Rajeshwari Kumari (17th), Seema Tomar (22nd) and Manisha Kheer (29th) failed to clear the qualification hurdle..
From India’s perspective, the day belonged to the 27-year-old Ghatkar, who, despite a “torn” blinder, displayed exemplary composure to secure a podium finish.
Ghatkar lost her father at a very young age and her mother, having acknowledged her daughter’s penchant for the sport, encouraged her all along. It would be wise to say that her mother’s belief in Ghatkar’s ability to shoot is paying dividends now.
The former Asian champion shot 228.8 in the final of 10m air rifle to finish third on the podium and win her maiden World Cup medal, at the Karni Singh Shooting Range, after two final appearance in the past.
China’s Mengyao Shi won the gold medal with 252.1 while setting a new world record in the event. Mengyao’s compatriot Dong Lijie bagged the silver with a score of 248.9 on day one of competitions.
Ghatkar, who had missed out on a Rio Olympics quota place by a whisker last year, said she was looking ahead having buried that chapter.
Ghatkar, who started the final with a 10.4, was consistent with her scores baring a couple of blips and was placed second with 104.6 at the end of first competition stage. Even as the Indian kept producing good high scores, Lijie proved to be a tough competitor, while Mengayo extended her lead at the top.
Mentored by Olympic bronze medallist Gagan Narang, Ghatkar managed a fine 10.8 and 10.7 in her 19th and 21st shots to assure herself of a medal.
In the course of her campaign, Ghatkar faced an obstacle as the blinder of her gun fell and she had to shoot her final few shots with an eye closed, a remarkable achievement. Helping her overcoming the obstacle was the tips from Narang on the eve of the event.
In the qualification, Ghatkar finished in second position with 418.0 behind eventual champion Mengayo (418.6) and ahead of the Lijie (417.7).
In Ghatkar’s event, Vinita Bhardwaj and Megha Sajjanar failed to qualify for the final and finished 16th and 20th respectively.
The men’s 10m air rifle was won by Chinese Wong Buhan (249.5) with a world record, while Peter Sidi of Hungary (249.1) and Atsushi Shimada (227.4) bagged the silver and bronze medals respectively.
Penny Smith of Australia won the gold medal in women’s trap with a world record score of 40, Italy’s Jessica Rossi (38) bagged silver, while Mopsi Veromaa (27) of Finland had to be contend with the bronze.
At the end of men’s 25m rapid-fire pistol precision stage, Neeraj Kumar was placed fifth, Gurpreet Singh was 12th and Harpreet Singh was 17th.
At the end of day one, China led the standings with two gold and one silver medals, while India was fifth overall. The other gold of the day went to Australia.