Verma strikes gold, seals Oly berth
Abhishek Verma’s gold medal in Men’s 10m Air Pistol event gave India their 5th Tokyo Olympics shooting berth
Pune: If it was the fearlessness of the teenagers up till now, Abhishek Verma showed on Saturday, that a little bit of age and maturity is always priceless as he nailed the Men’s 10m Air Pistol gold on Day 5 of the ISSF World Cup in Beijing.
Jaipur teenager Divyansh Singh Panwar had won India the fourth quota on Friday with a silver medal in the Men’s 10m Air Rifle, making it two quotas in two days for the national shooting squad.
Also, like in the Women’s 10m Air Rifle, India have now exhausted their maximum two quota places in the Men’s 10m Air Pistol event, with Saurabh Chaudhary winning the first quota at the New Delhi World Cup in February.
Abhishek in the process has also displayed exemplary international form, making his fourth big final in less than nine months and winning a third international medal in his very first year of being an international shooter for India.
He began with making the final of no less an event than the world championships in August last year where he finished eighth. He followed up with a bronze in the Asian Games in Jakarta and then last month took silver in the Asian 10m in Taoyuan in Chinese Taipei.
An ISSF medal was eluding him, however, as he missed out at the home World Cup where teammate and friend Saurabh Chaudhary hogged all the limelight.
But Abhishek never lost focus and on Saturday in Beijing he was on the job from get go, evident from a score of 97 in his very first qualifying series. He shot a 100 in the fourth and finished with a 98 and 97 for a qualification round score of 585, incidentally his best in a short international career. This placed him in fourth place in the 97-strong field. Park Daehun of Korea topped the field with a 586.
The final eight consisted of such names as former Olympic Champion Pang Wei of China, World Championship silver medalist and world No 2 Artem Chernusov of Russia as well as experienced campaigners and multiple ISSF medalists like Oleh Omelchuk of Ukraine and Yusuf Dikec of Turkey among others.
Abhishek, however, remained unfazed and led from start to finish to pull off what seemed to be a comfortable victory in the end. He ended the 24-shot final on a score of 242.7, giving the impression of never having being stretched.
To further reiterate the enormity of his achievement, this was just his second ISSF World Cup appearance.
Chernusov had to be satisfied with silver, his final score of 240.4, a clear 2.3 behind Abhishek. Korea’s Han Seungwoo won bronze, however, the second Tokyo Olympics quota place went to Mongolia’s Enkhtaivan Davaakhuu, who finished fifth as the third and fourth placed Koreans were not eligible for quota places in this event, having exhausted them in earlier competitions.
Two other Indians in the Men’s 10m Air Pistol, Shahzar Rizvi and Arjun Singh Cheema shot scores of 576 and 571 to finish in 32nd and 54th place respectively.
In the day’s other events, Manu Bhaker was the best-placed Indian shooter after the precision stage of the Women’s 25m Pistol qualifications round.
She shot 291 to be four points behind the leader in 14thspot while Asian Games champion Rahi Sarnobat’s effort of 288 put her in 29thplace. Chinki Yadav shot 284 to lie in 57thposition.
All three Indians in the Women’s 50m Rifle 3 Positions (3P) event also comfortably sailed through their elimination round and will shoot the qualifying round on Sunday, the concluding day of competitions.
Sunday will have two finals lined-up. The Women’s 3P final will follow its qualification round while the Women’s 25m Pistol final will also follow the second rapid fire stage of qualifying. At the moment, India top the medals tally with three gold and one silver medal.