Pune: Akhil Sheoran continued the march of India’s young brigade at the ISSF World Cup Rifle-Pistol-Shotgun stage in Guadalajara, Mexico, shooting down the Men’s 50m Rifle 3 Positions Gold medal with a lot to spare.
Sheoran in the process became the fourth young Indian shooter to have won a first ISSF World Cup medal in the competition after Shahzar Rizvi, Manu Bhaker, Mehuli Ghosh and Anjum Moudgil had put India on top of the medal standings with their performances over the last week.
Sheoran’s Gold was India’s fourth of the competition and makes it almost certain that India would finish on top of the medal tally for the first time in an ISSF World Cup.
Sheoran shot 455.6 in the final to leave behind Austria’s Bernhard Pickl in second place with 452. In a classy field which included 38-time ISSF medalist and Hungarian rifle legend Peter Sidi, Rio Olympic Bronze medalist Alexis Reynauld of France and gold medalist Istvan Peni, also of Hungary, besides India’s champion 3P exponent Sanjeev Rajput, Sheoran’s performance in tough conditions belied his age and experience.
Earlier in the qualification round where each shooter shoots 40-shots in each position, the experienced Rajput shot a solid 1176 out of a possible 1200 to qualify second behind Peni who shot 1178. Sheoran was fourth with 1174 while young Swapnil Kusale, competing in his first World Cup, shot 1168 for seventh place to make it all three Indians in the eight-man final.
Rajput best in Prone
Sanjeev Rajput had the best Prone round among all qualifiers with a 398 out of 400 while both he and Sheoran had the strongest Kneeling round among the eight with scores of 392 each.
In the final, Rajput was strongest off the blocks, being in second spot after the first 10 kneeling shots with Akhil in third and Swapnil in joint fourth place. At the end of it Rajput was 0.6 clear of second placed Austrian Pickl.
Akhil was in fourth and Swapnil in fifth place with Istvan Peni looming in third spot. World number one in the event and Rio Olympics Bronze medalist Alexis Raynauld of France was down in eighth place.
Rajput got even stronger in the 15 shot Prone round and by the end of it was 1.1 clear of second placed teammate Sheoran, who also had a strong Prone round to make his move up. Peni was 2.6 behind Rajput in third place. Swapnil had moved down to sixth.
The wind at the tent-range got into its elements at the start of the final 15 Standing position shots and after the first five shots, it was Sheoran who was 1 point clear of the field with Peni moving up to second and Rajput after a horrid 5-shot series which had three scores in the 8s, down to fourth. Swapnil maintained sixth place.
Manu finishes in 5th place in 25m Pistol
Pune (Sakal Times): Manu Bhaker of India ended her run at the ISSF World Cup in Mexico, with her third final appearance in as many events, eventually settling for fifth place in the Women’s 25m Pistol, to go with her two Golds in the Women’s 10m Pistol and the 10m Pistol Mixed Team event.
Manu qualified for the Women’s 25m Pistol final with a score of 581, which gave her fifth spot. Annu Raj Singh, the second Indian in the mix, shot 575 to finish 10th. It was a top field as usual in the final with both the reigning Olympic Champion in the event, Anna Korakaki of Greece and Rio Bronze medalist Heidi Gerber of Switzerland qualifying in third and sixth spots respectively.