Indian shooters continued their dominance at the Barry Buddon Shooting Range with ‘Pistol King’ Jitu Rai and Gurpal Singh bagging a gold and silver respectively in the men’s 50m pistol event in Glasgow on Monday.
26-year-old Rai, world No 4 in the event, shot a total of 194.1 to bag his first Commonwealth Games gold on debut while Gurpal had an aggregate of 187.2 to win the silver, his first international medal. Australia’s Daniel Repacholi was third.
With the two medals, India’s medal tally from the Barry Buddon Shooting Center has shot up to 11 (4, 6, 1), three more than England who have eight including three gold medals.
Nepal-born Rai, who won a gold (in 10m air pistol) and a silver (in 50m pistol) in the World Cup last month, was third in the first series but then recovered quickly and led the field throughout after that.
By the halfway mark of the elimination stage which has two shots for each series, Rai had taken a lead of 5.2 from his nearest rival. That included a magnificient 10.8 in his 10th shot.
By the seventh round, Rai had taken a huge seven point lead and at that stage it was clear who would win the gold.
Gurpal shot up to second spot in the last three rounds but could not catch up his senior colleague who won the gold with a huge 6.9 difference.
At one time, Gurpal went out of medal bracket but recovered in fine fashion after shooting just 7.2 by coming up with a series of impressive shots to finish for silver.
Earlier in the day, Rai had put on an incredible display of accuracy and consistency as he topped qualification with a Games record of 562 before setting a new finals record of 194.1. At one point the 26-year-old had stretched his lead to an incredible 7.5 in the final round.
Rai, who is now with the 11 Gorkha Regiment at Mhow, said later that he was confident about winning a gold in Glasgow.
“I have gold and silver in the World Cup and the field here was not strong. So before coming here, I knew that I would win a gold. I am happy that I have won gold in the Commonwealth Games too,” he said.
“I was never nervous and I took it easy. My planning while in India was to take it easy.”
Rai, born in Nepal’s Sankhuwasabha district, migrated to India and joined the Army in 2006. Last month he became the first Indian to win two medals in a single World Cup competition. He has not even completed two years in the international circuit.
“I am feeling really happy to have added a CWG gold in my career. It is just an immense feeling. I’m very happy with this, my first gold medal. I was expecting this result since I have done well in the World Cup,” he said.
Jitu said he relaxed a bit towards the end having taken a huge lead.
“I was going well and I just wanted to be calm throughout. The more calm I was the better it would be for me and in the end there was no tension or pressure at all.
“I was pushing ahead in the first few rounds and I was ahead. I took a huge lead and I took it a bit easy towards the end. But it did not matter in the end,” he said.
Rai praised the support he got from senior shooters and coaching staff for his achievements.
“I got encouragement from senior shooters but I owe my success to my coaches.”
34-year-old Gurpal, on the other hand, said he was nervous while going for the final shot.
“There was a lot of tension in the final shot, but I was confident and said (to myself) that I can do it,” he said.
“I have won nearly 30 medals at the national level but this is my first international medal. I am really happy that my first medal came in the Commonwealth Games.
“I was thinking I just had to create history, get the gold or silver medal for India.”
On competing with Rai, Gurpal said: “He is my best friend, my colleague, my training partner. It was great.”