On a day that saw Manu Bhaker lay down the marker with a fine performance en route to her gold in the women’s 10m Air Pistol, India’s rifle shooters too joined the party with youngsters Elavenil Valarivan and Divyansh Singh Panwar winning the 10m Air Rifle events at the ISSF World Cup Final on Thursday.
At the Putian Sports Training Base in Putian, China, while Valarivan dominated the women’s field with a strong show to clinch the gold, Panwar had to see off a stiff challenge from the defending champion Istvan Peni of Hungary to win the top prize by the slightest of margins.
No stopping Valarivan
Qualifying for the final as the second-best shooter behind Chinese Taipei’s Ying-Shin Lin, Valarivan started the final brilliantly with 52.5 in her first series. Having secured the pole position with that, the 20-year-old went a step ahead and extended her lead by a whole point in the second series.
From there on it was all about maintaining the lead and keeping the pressure on the chasing pack, something that Valarivan did to perfection. With just two of her shots in the elimination round missing the inner 10s, there was no stopping the Indian as she pocketed the gold with a total score of 250.8.
Meanwhile, Lin, who was in a constant battle with the Indian took the silver with a score of 250.7 while Romania’s Laura-Georgeta Coman completed the podium with a score of 229.0.
Later, in the men’s competition, Panwar had to fight past a determined Peni to lay his hands on the crystal trophy.
While the Indian was slow to start, his opening two series giving him a fourth place in the standings, the 17-year-old picked up the pace as the competition gathered steam. A 10.9 and a 10.6 in the third pushed him to the pole position, but Peni replied with a 10.5 and a 10.6 in the fifth to regain his hold at the top.
With the competition destined to go the distance, it was all about who would blink first, and the Hungarian obliged in the penultimate series as he couldn’t match Panwar’s 10.7 and 10.6, managing a 10.4 and a 10.6 of his own.
Though it seemed like the Indian had thrown away the opportunity to cap off a fine season that saw him win an Olympic quota when he shot a 9.8 with the first shot of the final series, Peni failed to punish his opponent as he managed just a 10.0, handing the momentum back to Panwar. And though Peni came up with a 10.5 of his last shot, Panwar’s 10.1 was enough to hand him the title by a margin of 0.01.