Asian Games champion Rahi Sarnobat, demolished a finals field which included reigning Olympic Champion Anna Korakaki of Greece, to strike gold in the Women’s 25M Pistol, giving India her first yellow metal of the on going International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup Rifle/Pistol/Shotgun stage in the Croatian city of Osijek. India now has one gold, one-silver and two bronze medals from the competition so far.
Rahi was so good on the day that she missed the finals world record score of 40 by one hit. If she was run closer in the final, chances are she would have broken it. The Indian ace shot 39 hits out of a possible 50, including four perfect series of 5/5 hits in a row, to leave silver medal winning Frenchwoman Mathilde Lamollle way behind on 31 hits. In the Women’s Sport Pistol as it is called, a score of 10.2 or above is considered a hit.
In her words, “After I got assurance about the gold, it was more about technicalities for me in the last few series as I wanted to try out a few things so I was doing that. It was not so much about the medal for me in this competition because I was trying out a few things which I am going to do in the Olympic Games and this is the final competition before that. This competition was absolutely not about performance or medal. It was more about trying out things and finalising every thing before the Olympics for the last time and that was just that.”
On winning gold Rahi said, “ This gives me the assurance that I am on the right track and I have to keep working on this up to and after the Olympic Games as well.”
Rio Olympics silver medallist in the 10M Air Pistol, Russian Vitalina Batsarashkina, won bronze with 28 hits, bowing out after the 9th5-shot series. Anna Korakaki finished fifth while the second Indian in the final Manu Bhaker, finished seventh. This was Manu’s second individual final of the competition.
The final consists of 10 series of 5 rapid fire shots each, with the eighth placed shooter being eliminated after the fourth series and then one lowest rank shooter after each subsequent 5-shot series, till two shooters are left to fight for gold and silver after the ninth series.
Both Indian shooters were in fact in their elements through the day, as they had earlier shot a brilliant rapid-fire qualifying round to book their final spots in second and third positions.
Rahi had ended day one of qualifying in third place after the precision round on Sunday, while Manu was lying ninth. On Monday morning, both shot sensational rapid-fire rounds of 296/300 to storm into the finals in a field that included all the Rio Olympic medallists in the event. Rahi totalled 591 to Manu’s 588 as Bulgarian Antoaneta Kostadinova topped with 593. Anna Korakaki qualified sixth with 584.
In the final, Rahi started with a five and never looked back. Her scores in the final as others kept falling by the wayside read: 5,2,5,5,5,5,3,3,2,4.
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