Veteran rifle shooter Sanjeev Rajput, a medal hope for India at Tokyo Olympics, shot a National Record equalling score of 1181 and also topped the men's rifle 3 positions final in the first selection trials at the Dr. Karni Singh Shooting Range in New Delhi on Thursday.
Rajput scored 393 in kneeling position, a spectacular 398 in prone and 390 in the standing position to take his total to 1181 during the qualifying - equalling his own National Record set at Rio de Janeiro World Cup in August 2019. That performance, incidentally, won him a spot at Tokyo 2020.
His tally showed that Rajput has not lost touch due to the coronavirus break, as the Indian shooters are participating in a 'real' competition for the first time since March 2020.
Rajput, however, participated in a few online shooting competitions during the lockdown.
"Considering it was the first tournament we participated in, after almost a year, I feel my shooting was pretty satisfactory. I could feel the loss of focus towards the end of the qualification. But I restored myself in the break and did well in the final," Rajput told The Times of India.
"The scores suggest I am on the right track and I feel it has been possible only because of the training camp that was conducted by the NRAI and SAI. The camp helped us to get back to where we left," he added.
Rajput then shot 156.1 in prone, 150.6 in kneeling and 153.2 in the standing position to beat Maharashtra shooter Swapnil Kusale in the final.
The Commonwealth Games champion will participate in his second trials on Friday. The platform will act as a much-needed dress rehearsal for Rajput ahead of the Tokyo Olympics after he failed to enter the final of the men's 50 m rifle prone event at Beijing 2008 and London 2012.
The trials, organized by the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI), is to select shooters for the upcoming World Cups in New Delhi and South Korea.