Rahi Sarnobat’s first World Cup gold medal in five years has earned India a seventh quota for shooting at the Tokyo Games. This was, however, the biggest win for women’s pistol shooting since Heena Sidhu won the World Cup Finals at the same venue in 2013.
Indian shooting has so far earned the country four Olympic medals, yet none have come from women pistol shooters — which has predominantly been dominated by competitors from China, South Korea, Russia and the former Soviet republics.
In Munich, considered one of the most prestigious and competitive World Cups, Sarnobat came up against a strong field which included Ukraine’s Olena Kostevych, the 2004 Olympic champion who won silver on the night, multiple World Cup medallist Antoaneta Boneva of Bulgaria, and youngster Doreen Vennekamp of Germany who won bronze at the World Championships last year and had already booked an Olympic quota for Tokyo.
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There was also reigning Olympic champion Anna Korakaki of Greece competing at the event. Sarnobat had first announced herself by winning gold at the 2010 New Delhi Commonwealth Games — when she was only 18 — and then retained her title four years later in Glasgow. But she was forced to leave the sport in 2014 after breaking her elbow in a fall. She took over a year to make a return — spending seven months in rehabilitation.
Sailing largely under the radar, she became the first Indian woman to win gold in an individual pistol event at the Asian Games last year. Now with her win in Munich, she remains relevant nine years after her breakthrough.