Changwon (South Korea): There was no stopping the golden run of India’s junior shooters with Hriday Hazarika claiming the 10m air rifle top honours before the women’s team combined for a new world record and gold at the ISSF World Championships here Friday.
Elavenil Valarivan also won the individual silver in women’s 10m air rifle, going down narrowly to China’s double senior World Cup gold medallist Shi Mengyao, in the final.
Elavenil shot 249.8 points to Shi’s 250.5. Seventeen-year-old Shreya Agrawal won the bronze with an effort of 228.4 in the final.
Four podium finishes on the sixth day of competition took India’s medals tally to 18, their best-ever showing in the International Shooting Sport Federation’s (ISSF) premier tournament. The country’s previous best was the six medals won during the 49th edition in Zagreb, Croatia.
Hazarika, the lone Indian to qualify for the men’s final with a score of 627.3 points, was tied with Iran’s Mohammed Amir Nekounam on 250.1 once the field was pruned to the regulation top eight. But the 17-year-old Indian clinched the yellow metal after prevailing in a shoot-off.
As the individual shots began, Hazarika strung together a fantastic series of high 10s and by the end of the 20th shot, he was leading the field by 0.5 points. He held on to the lead till the 22nd shot from Nekounam. Then a 9.4 for his 23rd shot meant that at the end of the allotted 24 shots, both Hazarika and Nekounam found themselves tied at 250.1 points each.
In the shoot-off, Hazarika had the last laugh with a 10.3 to the Iranian’s 10.2.
In the women’s 10m air rifle, the team of Elavenil (631), Shreya (628.5) and Manini Kaushik (621.2) then produced a sensational performance to total 1880.7 for a gold with a world record to boot. The score by Elavenil, a junior World Cup gold medallist, was also a new junior world record.
There was however, disappointment for the country in the senior men’s 50m rifle three position competition as none of the Indians in fray managed to make the cut for the finals.
Asian Games silver-medallist Sanjeev Rajput was the lowest placed Indian at 58th with a score of 1158 points.
In women’s 25m pistol, teenager Manu Bhaker was the best-placed Indian after the first precision stage of qualification, shooting an impressive 294 out of 300 to be among the joint top four scores.
Asian Games champion Rahi Sarnobat was lying 27th with 289 while Asiad bronze medallist Heena Sidhu shot 284 to be in 61st position.