Harpal Singh Bedi
New Delhi: Talented young shooter Elavenil Valarivan shot to glory and gold as she clinched the Women’s 10m Air Rifle title, her first senior world cup gold in her debut senior year in the fourth and final ISSF World Cup Rifle/Pistol stage in Rio de Janeiro on Thursday,
A Gun For Glory prodigy, the gold medal was a “double delight” for the 20-year-old Elavenil and mentor Gagan Narang, as Gagan Narang Sports Promotion Foundation was conferred with the prestigious Rashtriya Khel Purotsahan Puraskar by the President of India in the capital, on the same day.
Compatriot and world championship silver medalist Anjum Moudgil, also reached her third world cup final of the year, but finished fifth and missed out on a medal.
Elavenil helped India extend their newly found dominance in the event with an effort of 251.7 in the finals, leaving behind Seonaid Mcintosh of Britain who won silver with an effort of 250.6.
The youngster from Gujarat had earlier topped her senior Anjum in qualification, returning a quality 629.4 to the world number two’s 629.1 as they took the fourth and fifth spots through to the eight-woman final.
Chinese Taipei’s Ying-Shin Lin won bronze as well as one of the two Tokyo 2020 quota places on offer. The second quota was won by Iran. India has now won three out of the four world cup gold medals in the Women’s 10m Air this year.
World number one and finals world record holder Apurvi Chandela missed out by a whisker, finishing 11thon a score of 627.7. In fact, such has been India’s riches in the event that Mehuli Ghosh, shooting in the non-competition Minimum Qualification Score (MQS) section shot a 629.1, which would have earned her a final spot as well.
Anjum lead the finals field after the first five shots as Seonaid began as she finished and the eight finalists bunched closely at the top.
The Briton then attempted to pull ahead after 10 shots as Anjum had a poor second series to go down to fifth by the 12th shot.
However, Elavenil Valarivan was shooting brilliantly by now had caught up to lead ahead of Seonaid, as the American Mary Tucker became first to be eliminated in 8th place after the 12th.
The Korean Kim, then went out in seventh after the 14th shot at which stage there were three athletes, including Elavenil and Seonaid, who were jointly in the lead with a score of 147.1. Anjum maintained fourth place.
The women were now going ballistic with high 10s flowing from their rifle barrels and none ceding an inch.
Anjum missed out in fifth place as in a fight with Romania’s Laura-Georgeta Coman and with 0.1 separating them, she shot a 10.1 to Coman’s 10.4 to go out in fifth.
Meanwhile Elavenil was dishing out a master-class with a series of high 10s, which saw her 1.4 in the lead with four shots of the 24-shot final to go.
Seonaid and Elavenil battled till the end, but it was the Indian who prevailed for a milestone win.
“I am really thrilled with this achievement and want to thank my mentor Gagan sir, my coach Neha ma’am & my mental trainer Kirtika ma’am who have trained me so well and without their correct guidance, this would not have been possible. “she said after the win.
“Elavenil has made a beautiful transition from the junior level to the senior. We have worked very closely on her all these years and her success marks a special day for all of us at Gun For Glory. She is a smart shooter and has the capability to perform consistently,” said Gagan on his prodigy.
In the Women’s 25m Pistol, Annu Raj Singh, making a comeback to the India squad shot a solid 292 in the precision stage to set herself in 12thspot ahead of the Rapid Fire round on Thursday, preceding the final. Compatriot Chinky Yadav shot 290 to lie in 17thplace while Abhidnya Ashok Patil shot 286 to be further back in 43rdspot.
In the Men’s 50m Rifle 3 Positions competition, there was a qualification world record in the first elimination round itself as Austria’s Jan Lochbihler shot 1188 to set the new mark.
Sanjeev Rajput shot 1170 in the first elimination round to sail through with a 14thspot finish. He will now shoot the qualifying round on Thursday morning, for a shot in the finals. So will Parul Kumar who finished 10thin his elimination round with a score of 1169. Chain Singh shot 1163 in the same round as Sanjeev to end in 27thposition.