Rajput bags another Olympic shooting spot for India
After a splendid start on the opening day that saw 20-year-old Elavenil Valarivan win her first-ever senior medal, India continued its fine show at the ISSF World Cup Rifle/ Pistol in Rio de Janeiro to bag three more medals on Thursday.
While Sanjeev Rajput secured the nation’s eighth Olympic quota place in shooting with a silver medal in the 50m Rifle 3 Position, Abhishek Verma won the 10m Air Pistol final as Saurabh Chaudhary took bronze in the same event.
Rajput shot 462.0 in the eight-man final of the 50m Rifle 3 Position, finishing second behind Croatia’s Petar Gorsa who took the gold with 462.2 points. Meanwhile, China's Zhang Changhong clinched the bronze medal with 449.2 points to his name.
With Gorsa already having booked an Olympic quota in the 10m Air Rifle event and Changhong getting his quota at the Munich World Cup, the second quota in the event went to the fourth-placed Simon Claussen of Norway.
Close to gold
Rajput qualified in second place for the final, but dropped back to fourth by the end of the kneeling position.
After another 15 shots in the prone position, his status remained the same - down in fourth and out of the medal positions.
However, it was in the standing position that the 38-year-old began to flourish.
Rajput leaped up the rankings after scoring 102.6 after his first ten shots standing - a total unmatched by anyone else.
This put him level with Gorsa and the pair battled it out for gold.
A mark of 10.9 on his thirteenth shot lifted the Indian into the lead for the first time and the title seemed to be heading his way.
However, on his 45th and final shot of the competition, Rajput could only manage a disappointing 8.8.
With Gorsa scoring a solid 10.0, victory belonged to the Croatian by a narrow 0.2 point margin.
Rajput coming agonisingly close to his only second World Cup title to add to the one he won back in Changwon in 2011.
No stopping them
Meanwhile, in the 10m Air Pistol event, the Indians maintained their dominance to pocket the gold yet again on Thursday.
In all of the World Cup stops so far, an Indian shooter has managed to win the gold.
Saurabh Chaudary took the top honours in New Delhi and Munich, with Abhisek Verma coming out on top in Beijing.
Things were no different in Rio as well, as Verma won his second World Cup gold with a fine display of composed shooting.
Chaudhary wasn’t far behind as he finished with a bronze. In the final, Verma shot 244.2 while Turkey’s Ismail Keles scored 243.1 for the silver. Chaudhary finished third with 221.9.
In the qualifications, Chaudhary was fourth with 584 points and Verma entered the final in fifth position with 582 points.