India soar to the top in Beijing WC

SPORTS REPORTER
Friday, 26 April 2019

Manu Bhaker and Saurabh Chaudhary win back-to-back Mixed Team Air Pistol titles in Beijing

PUNE: Young Indian shooters dominated the Mixed Team competitions on Day 3 of the ISSF World Cup Rifle in Beijing as they took India to the top of the medals tally with a double gold effort on the day.

Highlighted by the teenage pairing of Manu Bhaker and Saurabh Chaudhary’s second gold in the 10m Air Pistol Mixed Team competition in as many World Cup stages this year, another teenager Divyansh Singh Panwar also struck gold in the corresponding Air Rifle event partnering the more accomplished Anjum Moudgil to help cap a memorable day for India.

The start of the day, however, was all about a new pair, a new format and a new result. Anjum partnered Divyansh, another talented teenager in only his second senior competition, for the very first time to beat a classy Chinese pair 17-15 in a pulsating gold medal match.

The win was even more creditable given that a new format was being tried by the ISSF for the Mixed events in Beijing. 

Then came the icing on the cake with Manu and Saurabh’s victory in the 10m Air Pistol Mixed Team competition. The teenage stars downing comprehensively, yet another fine Chinese pair consisting of former Olympic Champion Pang Wei and Jiang Ranxin, 16-6 in the gold medal match.

The new format entailed the top eight teams qualifying for the final round where four quarterfinal, two semifinals 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.

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 tiebreaker 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 in February, 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.

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.

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