Harpal Singh Bedi
New Delhi: Holding her nerves at crucial moments, 22-year old Yashaswini Singh Deswal stunned former Olympic and World Champion Olena Kostevych of Ukraine to win the Women’s 10m Air Pistol gold and booked the ninth Tokyo 2020 Olympic quota place for her India in the ongoing ISSF World Cup Rifle/Pistol in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.
Yashaswini led qualification with a superb 582 leading from start to finish in the 60-shot round. But what was to follow can only be described as the stuff of dreams.
She entered the final having to be one of six finalists who were eligible to win quotas, among them Kostevych.
Playing her fifth senior world cup and only her second final, the former junior world champion, led from the first shot-save the 15thwhen she fell just 0.1 behind to regain the lead on the 16th; of the 24-shot final to finish with 236.7 to the Ukranian champion’s 234.8 for a memorable victory. Jasmina Milovanovic of Serbia won bronze with 215.7.
Stuttering when she did not want to, like during the 21stshot when she scored a 9.7 bringing about a grimace, looking aware of the champion closing in who had roared with a 10.9. But she was in their for a fight, hitting back immediately with a 10.5, like she had been throughout the final.
Her two final shots where in the 9s, but importantly both were higher than those of the Ukranian champion.
Among India’s other competitors in the event Annu Raj Singh shot 572 for a 21st place finish while Shweta Singh finished 31st shooting a score of 568 in qualifying.
Earlier in the day Kajal Saini came up with a hugely improved performance in the Women’s 50m Rifle 3 Positions (3P) coming in 22ndwith a qualifying round score of 1167. Former world champion in Prone, Tejaswini Sawant finished 47th with a score of 1156.
In 3P there are a total of 120 shots in qualifying, divided equally among the Kneeling, Prone and Standing positions. The top eight make the final.
In the Men’s 25m Rapid Fire Pistol (RFP), Adarsh Singh and Anish Bhanwala shot 291 out of 300 in the first Precision round to be in 13thand 14thspots respectively. Anhad Jawanda, the third Indian in the fray shot 281 to be in 48th spot.
The trio will comeback for the final Rapid Fire round on Sunday to try and make it among the top six finalists.
Indians also continued to do well in the non-competition Minimum Qualification Score (MQS) section. Manu Bhaker and Esha Singh finished 1-2 in the Women’s 10m Air Pistol shooting scores of 580 and 577 respectively, which would have seen them both through to the finals in case they were competing for medals.
Meanwhile Deepak Kumar, had the most unfortunate result possible in the Men’s 10m Air Rifle final as after needing to finish above any one of two competitors to secure a Olympic quota place , he was left ruing a poor start to finish below both and thereby miss out.
Earlier Deepak had bagged the eighth and final qualifying spot with a brilliant finish at the end and a score of 627.9 after 60 qualifying shots.
Five of the eight finalists could not claim quotas and Deepak had to finish above either Australian Dane Sampson or Slovakian Patrik Jany to claim one of the two available Tokyo berths.
He was poorest off the blocks though, beginning with a couple of 9.7 and 9.2s, which eventually cost him the quota as even after shooting nothing below 10.0 in his next 12 shots, was eliminated after the 14thin seventh place.
Jany eventually won bronze and Sampson finished fourth to secure the quotas even as the gold when to Yu Haonan of China who broke both the senior and junior world records with a stunning 252.8 finish. Petar Gorsa of Croatia added a silver to go with his gold in the Men’s Rifle 3 Positions yesterday.
India otherwise had great results in the Men’s 10m Air Rifle as all three Indians fared admirably in gunning for the only quota place they could claim in the event, given Divyansh Singh Panwar had already won the other in the previous world cup.
Young Yash Vardhan shot 627.7 to miss out on a finals spot by 0.2 finishing ninth, while debutant Kiran Ankush Jadhav shot 627.5 to finish 11thoverall in the 88-strong field.