Despite coming into the nationals short of practice and still finding his feet with a new coach,Vijay Kumar still won the 25m Rapid Fire at the Karni Singh shooting range.
His Army Marskman Unit (AMU) base had run short of ammunition leaving Vijay Kumar with little practice time. Also,with Pavel Smirnov taking over as the national coach,his daily interaction with his former Army coach has been limited to camps. On Saturday though,Smirnov was by his side throughout,and the Olympic hero eventually got past a shaky start to finish first.
Vijay,in fact,completely missed the target once during qualification and was in danger of missing out on the final of the Rapid Fire event. Despite a lowly score of 559 points,the Army man made it third on the list of six finalists,mainly because everybody else seemed to misfire too. His team mate Pemba Tamang was leading the chart with a total of 580. Qualifying in second was Akshay Suhas of Maharashtra with a total 568. Also in the fray was,Jaspal Rana,one of the biggest names from the pistol fraternity,who came in fourth in the standings despite having not had the time or the right equipment to train. Armys Rajesh Kumar and Mukul Bhandari completed the line up.
What happened in the final only went on to establish Vijay Kumars pedigree. The 2012 London Olympics silver medallist was consistently trailing both Tamang and Suhas in the finals. After the fourth series where shooters aim to hit five targets in four seconds,also the first elimination round in the final,Vijay was down four and three points to Suhas and Tamang. But the complexion of the final changed after the sixth series as Vijay registered upwards of 9.7 with each of his five shots to bag five points and now he was only two hits away from the first position. Another five point series ensured that he tied for first with Suhas. Tamang,who was leading with 21 hits till the sixth series,fell by the way side after registering one hit and had to be content with a bronze. Vijay snapped up the gold in the ninth series as Suhas could only bag two hits to his four. While Mukul exited after the fourth series,Rajesh and Jaspal went out in the fifth and sixth series.
Also on Saturday,Man Singh won the skeet gold in mens category after beating Arozepal Sandhu by 16 to 14 hits in the final,while Shreyan Kapur bagged the bronze. In the womens category,Rashmee Rathore bagged the top sport ahead of Aarti S Rao.