Incheon: Ace Indian shooter Jitu Raiclinched a historic gold in the 50m Pistol event on the opening day of the 17th Asian Games at the Ongnyeon International Shooting Range, here on Saturday.
Fresh from his 50m Pistol silver in the World Championships, the Lucknow-based shooter completed a grand double as he had won a gold in the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow earlier this year.
The shooter, who serves the Gurkha regiment, was on target from the word go after moving into the finals even as compatriot Omkar Singh failed to cross the qualification hurdle.
In the finals though, Rai was tested by Vietnam’s Nguyen Hoang Phuong, who had to settle for silver and bronze medallist Wang Zhiwei of China.
Rai accumulated 186.2 points in comparison to Phuong’s 183.4 and Zhiwei stood a distant third with 165.6 points. This was India’s second medal at the ongoing Games after Shweta Chaudhary’s bronze in the 10m air pistol event.
Pistol shooter Shweta Chaudhrydefied odds, a travel-weary schedule and absence of her regular weapon to provide India with their first medal, a bronze, in the 17th Asian Games.
The Faridabad-born Shweta had to eliminate a rival through a shoot-off to ensure the bronze in the women’s 10M Air Pistol event with a total tally of 176.4 at the Ongnyeon shooting range here.
China’s Zhang Mengyan won the gold with 202.2 while host country South Korea’s Jung Jee-Hae secured the silver with 201.3.
Having qualified for the 8-woman finals with a total score of 383 even as her more fancied teammate Heena Sidhu got eliminated after notching up 378, Shweta, 28, showed exemplary poise to fight her way back in the finals.
She managed to stave off early elimination by being the third best after the first eight shots, having recovered from the 6th position. She had a poor 8.4 when the last four shooters were standing, which forced a play-off with China’s Guo Wenjun to decide who remains in the competition.
Shweta was leading Guo 138.3 to 137.9 when she became nervous and the poor mark of 8.4 followed to force the shoot-off in which she shot 10.7 while her Chinese rival came up with only 10.0 to be eliminated.
This ensured at least a bronze for the married ONGC employee, but by then the leeway she had conceded to the top-two shooters was too big to bridge.
And a poor first shot of 8.6 pegged her down further and though she shot 10.5 with her last shot, as compared to 10.7 by Zhang and 10.0 by Jung, she got eliminated from the gold medal round.
Shweta’s sequence of scores in the 20-shot finals, in which she completed 18 shots before being knocked out, were 10.8, 10.7, 9.3, 10.2, 10.0, 9.8, 9.3, 7.7, 9.7, 10.3, 10.1, 9.8, 10.7, 9.9, 10.6, 8.4, 8.6 and 10.5.
Shweta was ecstatic to give the country the first medal on the opening day action.
“I am happy I got the first medal for India, it’s a bronze but a medal is a medal. This is the biggest medal for me till now. I was thinking of first or second place in the beginning when it was good but in the middle I lost a bit.
That 8.4 was a bad shot (leading to shoot-off),” the Faridabad shooter told reporters after winning the bronze.