The fast-rising Elavenil Valarivan claimed her maiden senior World Cup gold medal, finishing on top in the women’s 10m air rifle competition to become only the third Indian to achieve the feat.
The 20-year-olds top prize, however, did not translate into an Olympic quota for India as Apurvi Chandela and Anjum Moudgil have already secured the maximum two berths available per country in last years World Championships.
The fancied Chandela and Moudgil, world number one and two respectively, finished outside the medal bracket in the ISSF Rifle/Pistol Stage event here. Moudgil finished sixth in the final with 166.8, while Chandela could not clear the qualifications, finishing 11th.
In her debut year at the senior level, Elavenil shot 251.7 in the finals to help India extend their new-found dominance in the event, leaving behind Seonaid Mcintosh of Britain, who won silver with an effort of 250.6 on Wednesday (August 28).
Chinese Taipei’s Ying-Shin Lin won bronze as well as one of the two Tokyo 2020 quota places on offer. The second quota was won by Iran. Anjali Bhagwat and Chandela are the country’s, other two shooters, to win gold in the event. India has now won three out of the four World Cup gold medals in the women’s 10m air this year.
A student of English literature and one who loves to go on long drives, Elavenil is a junior World Cup gold-medallist besides being an Asian champion. It has been remarkable progress for the young shooter who held a gun for the first time as a 13-year-old in native Ahmedabad.
Elavenil, who wanted to be a track and field athlete in her school days, rose to prominence after being selected for Project Leap, an initiative launched by Olympic bronze-medallist Gagan Narang to train youngsters.
Elavenil’s mentor Narang always speaks highly of her. Gujarat’s Elavenil had earlier pipped her senior Moudgil in qualification, with an impressive 629.4 to the world No.2’s 629.1 as they took the fourth and fifth spots through to the eight-woman final.
World number one and finals world record holder Chandela failed to qualify for the finals, finishing 11th with a score of 627.7. Such has been India’s supremacy that Mehuli Ghosh, shooting in the non-competition Minimum Qualification Score (MQS) section, shot a 629.1, which could have earned her a final spot as well.
Anjum led the finals field after the first five shots. Seonaid began as the Indian finished and the eight finalists bunched closely at the top. The Briton then attempted to pull ahead after 10 shots as Moudgil had a poor second series to go down to fifth by the 12th shot. However, Elavenil, who was shooting brilliantly, went ahead of Seonaid.
American Mary Tucker was the first to be eliminated in eighth place after the 12th shot. Korea’s Kim, then went out in seventh after the 14th shot at which stage there were three athletes, including Elavenil and Seonaid, who were jointly in the lead with a score of 147.1. Moudgil maintained her fourth place at that stage.
Moudgil finished fifth losing to Romania’s Laura-Georgeta Coman. The Indian shot a 10.1 to Comans 10.4 to go out in fifth. Meanwhile, Elavenil was dishing out a master-class with a series of high 10s, which saw her maintain a 1.4 points lead with four shots of the 24-shot final to go. Seonaid and Elavenil battled till the end, but it was the Indian who prevailed for a milestone win.
In the women’s 25m Pistol, Annu Raj Singh, making a comeback to the India squad, shot a solid 292 in the precision stage to set herself in 12th spot ahead of the Rapid Fire round on Thursday, preceding the final. Compatriot Chinky Yadav shot 290 to lie in 17thplace while Abhidnya Ashok Patil shot 286 to be further back in 43rdspot.
In the men’s 50m Rifle 3 Positions competition, there was a qualification world record in the first elimination round itself as Austrias Jan Lochbihler shot 1188 to set the new mark. Indias Sanjeev Rajput shot 1170 in the first elimination round to sail through with a 14th spot finish.
He is slated to shoot the qualifying round on Thursday for a shot in the finals. So will Parul Kumar, who finished 10th in his elimination round with a score of 1169. Chain Singh shot 1163 in the same round along with Sanjeev to end in 27th position.
Thursday (August 29) has as many as three finals on the schedule beginning with the men’s 50m Rifle 3 Positions, followed by the women’s 25m Pistol and the men’s 10m Air Pistol being the concluding final of the day.