Harpal Singh Bedi
New Delhi: Spearheaded by Manu Bhaker and Saurabh Chaudhary, Indian Shooters dominated the Mixed Team competitions enabling the country to top of the medals tally at the World Cup Rifle/Pistol in Beijing on Thursday.
Manu Bhaker and Saurabh Chaudhary claimed their second gold in the 10m Air Pistol Mixed Team competition in as many World Cup stages this year, while another teenager Divyansh Singh Panwar also struck gold in the corresponding Air Rifle Mixed Team event partnering the more accomplished Anjum Moudgil to help cap a good day for India in international sport shooting.
Anjum partnered Divyansh, for the very first time to beat a classy Chinese pair 17-15 in an exciting gold medal match.
Manu and Saurabh then added another gold winning the 10m Air Pistol Mixed Team competition. The teenage stars beat Chinese pair of former Olympic Champion Pang Wei and world cup finalist Jiang Ranxin, 16-6 in the title match
Anjum and Divyansh were also up against a formidable host pair of Liu Ruxuan and Yang Haoran in the final and in an up and down final where it once looked like the Chinese pair would pull through, the Indians came back admirably to tie at 15 points each, before winning the shoot-off tie-breaker under pressure to win a stunning gold.
The second Indian team in the competition, Apurvi Chandela and Deepak Kumar also reached the finals but finished sixth eventually.
In the Air Pistol event, Saurabh and Manu began from where they had left at the home world cup in Delhi a couple of months back, soundly beating top class competition en-route to an encore.
They did enough to make it to the final eight and then beat an experienced German pair in the QF, a second Chinese pair in the semis, before comprehensively beating Pang and Jiang 16-6 in the gold medal match. At one stage they were 12-0 up against their opponents before losing out on a few series.
The win was even more creditable given that a new format was being tried by the ISSF for the mixed events in Beijing.
The new format entailed the top eight teams qualifying for the final round where four quarterfinal (QF), two semifinals (SF) and a final would determine the eventual medalists.
The QF would be a 30-shot match-up between pairs in Rifle while a 40-shot one in Pistol. The medal events would entail a series of single shots per competitor per team. To decide the medals, the pair with the higher series aggregate would be allotted two points and the first team to reach 16 points would be adjudged the winner. In the Air Rifle event, a single shot would start the final before the series of two shots kicked-in.
Adarsh Singh in the Men’s 25m Rapid Fire Pistol was the best placed Indian after day one of qualification, shooting a score of 290 in the first precision stage to lie in 15thposition.
Anish Bhanwala shot 289 to be in 17thspot while Arpit Goel was lying 22nd after a round of 288. The trio goes into the second Rapid Fire stage on Friday for a shot at the final where the top six qualify. A total of 57 shooters are in the fray.