Jitu rallies to emerge champion

Jitu rallies to emerge champion

Pressure forces some to crack, but in Jitu Rai it stirs a will to fight. The 29-year-old scripted another sensational comeback in the World Cup to beat compatriot Amanpreet Singh for the gold in 50M pistol at the Dr Karni Singh Range on Wednesday.

Much like his journey to the bronze medal in the 10M air pistol on Tuesday, it was a rough start for Rai (230.1 points) before he stealthily worked up his way. Amanpreet (226.9), who had led till the 22nd shot, gave in to pressure in the final stages to finish with silver. The bronze was won by Iran’s Vahid Golkhandan (208).

The gold was officially India’s first in the tournament and along with the silver, it took India’s medal tally to five.

Amanpreet (561) and Rai (559) had also taken the first two places in the qualifying round. The third Indian shooter Gurpal Singh finished 12th while Prakash Nanjappa (564), participating in MQS, shot the highest total in the qualifying round.

Amanpreet, making a comeback after three years, began spectacularly to take the top place after 12 shots. Rai, who shot a poor 6.6 in the first series, made a steady ascent, surviving elimination for the fifth and sixth places on the way.

As the contest hurtled towards the finishing line, Rai, with his monk-like focus, reduced the gap shot by shot. After the 20th shot, he was more than four points away from Amanpreet but within two shots the difference was cut to 0.3 points. In the 23rd shot Rai shot 10.0 to upstage Amanpreet — who fired 8.8 — and led by 0.9 point. Rai then rounded off with a 10.5, punching the air in joy in front of a packed gathering that celebrated his feat.

“When I was behind Amanpreet by 0.3 points, I thought if I could shoot to the best of my ability, I could surpass him. I fought till the end, I enjoy doing that,” Rai said.

Despite missing the gold, Amanpreet, playing in his 21st World Cup but first final, was all smiles. “I was a bit low yesterday after missing the 10M air pistol final.  So it’s special for me to win at home,” said Amanpreet, who is mentored by India’s pistol specialist Samresh Jung.

In women’s 25M pistol, none of the Indians could enter the final. The gold was won by Thailand’s Naphaswan Yangpaiboon.

There was also no Indian representation in women’s skeet, where the gold was won by American Kimberly Rhode.
DH News Service
Results: Men: 50M pistol: Jitu Rai (Ind, 230.1, WR) 1; Amanpreet Singh (Ind, 226.9), 2; Vahid Golkhandan (Irn, 208) 3.

Women: 25M pistol: Naphaswan Yangpaiboon (Thai, 38) 1: Zhang Jingjing (Chn, 30) 2; Michelle Skeries (Ger, 27) 3.

Skeet: Kimberly Rhode (USA, 56) 1; Sutiya Jlewchaloemmit (Thai, 51) 2; Chloe Tipple (Nzl, 42) 3.

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