Changwon (South Korea): Indian shooter Om Prakash Mitharwal picked up his maiden gold medal at the ISSF World Championships, claiming the top honours in the 50m pistol event here Tuesday.
The 23-year-old, a bronze-winner in the 10m air pistol and the 50m pistol events of the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast earlier this year, shot a score of 564 to finish on top here.
In the junior competition, the duo of Asian Games gold-medallist Saurabh Chanudhary and Abhidnya Patil brought India the 10m air pistol mixed team bronze.
The two medals have helped the country surpass the previous best haul of six achieved at this prestigious competition in Zagreb 12 years ago.
The silver was won by Serbia’s Damir Mikec (562), while the bronze went to local favourite Daemyung Lee (560).
The seasoned Jitu Rai, who won a silver medal in the 2014 edition of the tournament, endured disappointment as he finished 17th in the field with a below-par score of 552.
The ongoing championship is the first qualifying event for the 2020 Olympics but since 50m pistol is no longer a part of the Games roster, there were no quota places to be sealed.
The International Shooting Sport Federation’s (ISSF) premier tournament is offering as many as 60 berths across 15 events.
In the team competition of the same category, Mitharwal, Rai and Manjit (532) combined for a fifth-place finish with a total score of 1648.
Manjit signed off 56th in the individual field, failing to make the finals along with Rai.
The women shooters, who could have sealed Olympic qualification, faltered in the 10m air pistol event.
Teen sensation Manu Bhaker, after a medal-less Asian Games campaign, and senior shooter Heena Sidhu were off-colour and both failed to make the finals.
Bhaker shot a score of 574 to be 13th, while Sidhu was further down at 29th with a total of 571.
The Indian team finished fourth with Bhaker, Sidhu and Shweta Singh (568) combining for a total of 1713.
Later in the day, Chaudhary and debutant Patil qualified with a score of 761 for the five-team final along with the second Indian team of Devanshi Rana and Anmol Jain, who shot 765 to qualify in second place.
Saurabh and Abhidnya shot 329.6 in the finals where gold and silver went to hosts Korea.
On Monday, Anjum Moudgil and Apurvi Chandela became the first set of Indian shooters to secure quota places for the Olympics by winning a silver and finishing fourth respectively in the women’s 10m air rifle event.
Though the two shooters have secured quotas, as per the stated policy, the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) will take the final call on selection, based on the aggregate scores of shooters (in international tournaments and selection trials) leading up to the Olympic Games. (PTI)
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