All the Olympians and World Cup medal winners from the Indian women pistol team took turns to shake Malaika Goels hands. The likes of Heena Sidhu,Rahi Sarnobat,Annuraj Singh,Sonia Rai and others were quick to congratulate Malaika after she was confirmed as the new national champion in the 10m air pistol discipline. Some,like the 2013 World Cup finals winner Heena,and 2011 World Cup silver medal winner Annuraj,failed to even make the final round. The significane of the 16-year-old girl winning the medal was not lost on her seniors.
I had a very shaky start to the finals but then I found my concentration and shot better, Malaika said minutes after stunning the field in the final. But I know I can shoot much better. My qualification score could have been much better but here it was good enough for me to make the final. she added. The class XI student of Alpine School,Ludhiana,made the cut for the final in the second spot with 385 points,behind Rahi Sarnobat with 387 points.
Malaika was way behind the leader board after the first three shots in the final. Starting off,it was Rahi who led the field of eight with a tally 29.8 points. The lead switched hands after the next three,with Harveen Srao leading with a total of 60.2. As per new rules,after eight competition shots,the player with least aggregate is eliminated. Maliaka clawed her way back and overtook Srao after eight shots. From then on the Ludhiana girl never gave away her lead. Srao finished second with 95.8 points,which was a good 5.2 points adrift of Malaikas total of 201.1. Maharastras Shreya Gawande won the bronze after tallying 174.5 points.
Meanwhile,PN Prakash,who was down with Bells Palsy during the Granada World Cup in July this year,won the 50m pistol event. Still trying to come to terms with the effects of facial paralysis,Prakash shot a total of 190.2 points in the final to win gold. Air Forces Kapil Kumar finished second with 186 points,while Armys Gurpal Singh was third after tallying 166. Jitu Rai,who had shot into the lead with a score of 564,had a dramatic meltdown despite leading for long stretches.
His challenge faded away in the last six shots of the 20-shot final. He finished fourth.