Sensational Apurvi strikes gold

FOCUS, FOCUS: Apurvi Chandela prepares for a shot during the final of the women's 10M air rifle in the World Cup in New Delhi on Saturday. PTI

In the backdrop of joyous clamour, Apurvi Chandela presented a striking picture of poise and composure. Her face betrayed neither the exhaustion of a thrilling, pressure-laced contest nor the excitement of beating a quality field. But a shining gold medal captured the tale of her success that came with a world record score in the season-opening World Cup on Saturday.

The 26-year-old, the only Indian to qualify for the final of the 10m air rifle, showed exemplary temperament and consistency against a tough challenge posed by the Chinese shooters at the Karni Singh Shooting Range. In the 24-shot final, not once in the last 11 shots did she score below 10.5.

She finished with a total of 252.9, besting the previous world record of 252.4 set by Chinese teenager Zhao Ruozhu in April last year in Korea.

Zhao had to settle for the silver after ending the qualifying round with a world record of 634. She finished 1.1 points behind Apurvi at 251.8. China’s Xu Hong, who gave a tough fight to Apurvi, took the bronze medal at 230.4.

Both Zhao and Xu secured the two Olympic quota up for grabs with Apurvi along with Anjum Moudgil having already picked up two quotas in the event at Changwon last year.

It was a slow start by Apurvi who then paced herself up the charts with steady scoring. With the crowd constantly egging her on, she shot 10.8 on her 16th shot to move up to the second place before a 10.6 on the 17th propelled her to the top.

Apurvi, who scored 629.3 in the qualifying round, was pleased about improving her performance in the final. “Since a month now I am working really hard on the finals and my qualification round. I am happy that I could get the results today and get a world record. Even in January I had gone for open competitions in Austria and won gold. I took confidence from there,” said Apurvi, who began shooting inspired by the Olympic gold of Abhinav Bindra.

“The crowd was motivating me. I stuck to my technique and executed each shot the way I wanted to. The pressure was there definitely. When I came to know that I am in the top, I did have bit of nerves, but I told myself ‘to stay calm. It’s a matter of a few shots and you can do it. It is one of the most important medals for me -- Glasgow 2014 (Commonwealth Games gold) and this one.”

The other two Indians in the fray -- Anjum (628) finished 12th and Elavenil Valarivan (625.3) ended 30th).

Meanwhile, in the Minimum Qualification Score (MQS) category, Mehuli Ghosh was on fire and finished with a score of 631. Meghana Sajjanar tallied 625.3 points.

Results: 

Women's 10M air rifle: Apurvi Chandela (India, 629.3, 252.9) 1; Zhao Ruozhu (China, 634, 251.8), 2; Xu Hong (China, 628.1, 230.4) 3.

 

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