Gold Coast(PTI): Jitu Rai underlined his status as one of India’s premier shooters by winning the 10m air pistol gold medal before Mehuli Ghosh settled for the women’s 10m air rifle silver by forcing a shoot-off with a perfect final shot of 10.9 in the Commonwealth Games today.
The World Championship silver medallist Rai shattered the Games record in the finals with a score of shot 235.1 to comfortably finish on top with compatriot Om Prakash Mitharval giving him company on the podium with a bronze medal.
Defending champion Apurvi Chandela added a bronze to India’s tally after finishing third in the women’s air rifle finals with 225.3.
The air rifle finals witnessed an exciting a climax as Ghosh, at 17 years of age, ensured a shoot-off with Singapore’s Martina Lindsay Veloso, the eventual gold medallist and one who displayed imperious form all along, and so was Ghosh.
Both Veloso and Ghosh shot a Games record 247.2 before the Singaporean had the last laugh with a 10.3 in the shoot-off as her Indian rival managed 9.9 at the Belmont Shooting Centre.
Ghosh thought she had won the gold when she fired the only perfect shot of the final with the last shot in the gold-medal round, only to be told she had equalled Veloso to force a shoot-off.
The Indian shooter had already disarmed her rifle and waved jubilantly to the crowd.
Chandela had earlier smashed her own Commonwealth Games qualifying record from four years back by scoring 423.2, while Mitharval too had established a new qualification record with 584.
He eventually finished with the bronze after aggregating 214.3 in the eight-man finals.
Australia’s Kerry Bell secured the silver medal with 233.5, having managed to topple Mitharval from the second position.
In the men’s skeet finals, Smit Singh finished a disappointing sixth after managing to shoot 15 out of the first 20 shots.
In the air pistol finals, Jitu started on a strong note and led with 100.4 at the end of stage 1, while Mitharval was third with 98.1.
In stage 2 elimination, Rai started with 10.3 and 10.3 to lead the pecking order, even as his compatriot moved up and displaced Bell at second place with two 10.1.
Rai continued to surge ahead with a 10.2 but an 8.4 disturbed his momentum somewhat, as the next shot fetched him 9.2.
Meanwhile, Mitharval closed the gap as Rai had just 8.8 in the 18th shot to Mitharval’s 10.0.
Last month, the young Indian shooter had combined with Manu Bhaker to claim the mixed team air pistol gold in the ISSF World Cup in Guadalajara, Mexico.
And he displayed that form today too, en route to creating a new qualification record. He competed well the finals too, but came up short against a rampaging Rai, a winner of multiple gold medallist in top global events.
Mitharval slipped even as Rai managed another 10.0 and maintained the lead throughout to emerge triumphant.
Such was Rai’s lead that scores of two 9.2 in the last two attempts did not matter in the end. That Kerry managed a low 8.6 in his final shot also did not help his cause and the gap only widened.
It was a high-quality women’s air rifle final as both Ghosh and Veloso had 20 each scores of 10 or above. Chandela had shot 10-plus on 19 occasions before being toppled by her younger compatriot.
From the 4th place, Ghosh shot two successive 10.7s to displace Scotland’s Mcintosh Seonaid and Chandela from their respective positions.
A 10.7 and a 10.4 by Chandela then placed her tied with Veloso, but pressure seemed to have got the better of the Indian as she bowed out with a 9.9 and 9.4.
Two 10.3 and a 10.7 kept Ghosh in contention for the top prize and she inched closer to what would have been an incredible win with the finals’ only 10.9.
Trained by Olympian Joydeep Karmakar, Ghosh, who was placed fifth in the qualifying, showed her fighting abilities all through before falling short by just .4 in the end.
In the men’s finals, the show belonged to Rai, a CWG gold medallist in 50m air pistol event four years ago in Glasgow and the 2016 World Cup Finals’ ‘Champion of Champions’.
In 2017, Jitu won four gold medals and a bronze at ISSF events and two bronze medals at the Commonwealth Championships.