New Delhi: Pooja Ghatkar missed out on a Rio Olympics berth by a whisker last year, but the young shooter was determined to start a new chapter when she aimed with her rifle at the ISSF World Cup.
Pooja gave India its first medal in the World Cup by clinching the women's 10m air rifle bronze at the Dr. Karni Shooting Range in New Delhi.
A former Asian champion, Pooja, shot 228.8 in the final to finish third on the podium and win her maiden World Cup medal.
China's Mengyao Shi won the gold medal with a score of 252.1, setting a new world record in the event. Mengyao's compatriot Dong Lijie bagged the silver with a score of 248.9.
Ghatkar suffered a heartbreak when she narrowly missed out on a Rio Games quota place by a small margin in the qualifiers last year and termed the World Cup performance as her 'biggest win'.
Moments after winning her first medal at the World Cup, the 27-year-old shooter attributed her success to her mentor Gagan Narang who played a vital role in shaping her career.
"My mentor Gagan (Narang) told me this is not the end of life and I have to go a long way. He guided me a lot. His guidance and pep talks helped me in improving my performances. I have learned how to handle pressure," she added.
The 2012 Olympics bronze medallist Narang was in the audience when the youngster finished third.
"He was watching my performance closely in the final. The moment I won the bronze, he came and congratulated me and said enjoy the success," Pooja said.
During the final event, Pooja faced an obstacle as the blinder of her gun fell and she had to shoot her final few shots with an eye closed.
"I had 50 seconds to shoot and the countdown was about to start. I didn't have time to pick the blinder and fix it. So, I closed my eyes and shot. The shot was 10.6," a confident shooter said.
On being asked about the plans for the entire year, the Indian shooter said:"My aim is to improve my score. If I will manage to do it, things will be automatically on track"."I will take one tournament at one time and will try to win as many medals for my country," Pooja signed off.