India’s teenage shooting sensations extended their dominance in the ongoing ISSF World Cup here on Monday, winning the mixed team gold medals in both the 10m air pistol and 10m air rifle events to continue their stupendous run of form in the run-up to this year’s Olympics. With Monday’s three gold medals, India have so far notched up six top finishes, four silver and as many bronze medals for a total of 14. A distant second is Team USA with three gold, two silver and one bronze. The sensational duo of Saurabh Chaudhary and Manu Bhaker netted the 10m air pistol mixed team gold medal after Divyansh Singh Panwar and Elavenil Valarivan produced some excellent shooting to comfortably claim the gold medal in the 10m mixed air rifle event.
The 18-year-old Chaudhary and the 19-year-old Bhaker defeated Golnoush Sebhatollahi and Javed Foroughi of Iran 16-12, making a brilliant rally after trailing 0-4 at the end of the second series to give India their fifth gold at the ongoing event. This was the pair’s fifth World Cup mixed team gold medal.
In the evening, Indian men won the skeet team event while the women settled for silver. In pistol mixed finals, the Iranians began well but once the Indians overcame their starting troubles, they were unstoppable and lived up to the huge expectations by claiming the top prize. Also for India, Yashaswini Singh Deswal and Abhishek Verma bagged the bronze medal in the same event after getting the better of Turkey’s Sevval Ilayda Tarhan and Ismail Keles 17-13 at the Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range.
The fancied Indians began on an unexpected note, conceding a 2-0 lead in the first series and their determined rivals doubled it by the end of the next series. Foroughi and Sebhatollahi got off to a great start, maintaining a four-point lead over Chaudhary and Bhaker for a majority of the match. However, the home favourites then got their act together and started shooting like they are normally expected to.
The Indian duo won three series in a row to turn a 6-10 deficit into a 12-10 lead. After they went ahead of their opponents, Bhaker and Chaudhary held on to their advantage to emerge deserving winners.
The Indians were second in the qualification with a total of 384. In the bronze medal match, Deswal and Verma dominated from the start, taking a huge 8-0 lead in the first four series, before Turkey came fighting strongly to make it 10-8 after nine series.
After that, they pulled ahead of their opponents to finish third on the podium. Earlier this morning, 21-year-old Elavenil and 18-year-old Divyansh had combined to claim the 10m air rifle mixed team gold. This was Elavenil’s first at the senior level, while fourth for Divyansh at the senior World Cups. The India duo shot a total of 16 in the gold medal match to finish ahead of Hungarian world number one Istvan Peni and Eszter Denes who managed 10.
They were glad to have pulled it off, having come into their first competitive tournament in more than a year owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. “We are actually pretty happy to be participating in the tournament. In the end, Divyansh and I have managed it quite well to win gold,” Elavenil said after her event. The Indians shot a 10.4 each in the final shot to secure the top prize while the Hungarian pair got 10.7 and 9.9 at the Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range. Before that, they more or less sealed the issue with a 10.8 apiece in the penultimate attempt, even as their opponents managed 10.4 each. Mary Carolynn Tucker and Lucas Kozeniesky (17) of the US bagged the bronze medal ahead of Poland’s Aneta Stankiewicz and Tomasz Bartnik (15). In the second qualification, Elavenil and Divyansh grabbed the top spot after shooting 211.2 and 210.1 respectively for an aggregate of 421.3. Together, Peni and Denes shot a total 419.2 in the qualification. The other Indian pair in the event, Anjum Moudgil and Arjun Babuta, could not make the final after finishing fifth in the qualifying with a total score of 418.1. Later, the Indian team of Gurjoat Khangura, Mairaj Ahmad Khan and Angad Vir Singh Bajwa beat Qatar’s Nasser Al-Attiya, Ali Ahmed A O Al-Ishaq and Rashid Hamad 6-2 to win the men’s skeet team gold medal.
In the women’s final, India’s Parinaaz Dhaliwal, Karttiki Singh Shaktawat and Ganemat Sekhon settled for silver after losing to Kazakhstan’s Rinata Nassyrova, Olga Panarina and Zoya Kravchenko 4-6 in the final.