The shooting range once again provided an early medal for the Indian contingent as the women’s pistol trio of Rahi Sarnobat, Anisa Sayyed and Heena Sidhu shot down a bronze in the 25m range on day three of the competitions.
The Indian trio tallied 1729 points, a whopping 18 adrift of silver medal winners China and two more behind gold medallists and hosts South Korea, to clinch the fourth medal from the pistol and rifle shooting range.
It was also the third bronze for the country from this venue. The only metal of any other colour, notably gold, has come through the efforts of army man Jitu Rai in the 50m pistol event.
Anisa, in the second lot of shooters who went through the precision and rapid fire parts of the competition, provided the spark to fetch the bronze with a superb tally of 294 out of 300.
Her precision round got her only 283 for an overall aggregate of 577.
The other Indian expert in this rapid fire round, Rahi Sarnobat, fired 289 in precision and two more in the second stage rapid fire round to aggregate 580 points and also qualify for the eight-woman individual final with the eighth best score in the preliminaries.
Heena Sidhu, whose pet event is the 10m air pistol in which the shooters take their own time while aiming at the target and then fire, had an expected splendid first round in which she recorded 291.
But her inexperience in rapid fire showed as she got only 281 for an overall tally of 572.
“There was a lot of pressure as we knew that me and Rahi had to do well in rapid fire as Heena is new to this format,” said Anisa.
“It is my first Asian Games medal and I am very happy because otherwise people would have said that we did not deliver despite being rapid fire experts,” she added.
But elsewhere there was disappointment for the country when rifle shooter Ayonika Paul made the 10m finals but then got eliminated after the 12th shot to finish seventh with 101.9.
Her sequence of scores in the finals was 10.2, 10.2, 10.4, 9.9, 10.3, 104, 9.8, 10.5, 9.7, 10.5.
She had tallied 417.7 in the preliminaries which was the second highest score of that stage but not considered for the finals in which all the qualifiers start from scratch.
Aonika’s score was marginally lower than 2012 London Olympic champion Yu Siling’s of China, but she could not reproduce the same form in the final where it becomes a virtual precision round, according to Indian shooting team’s mental trainer Vaibav Agashe.
“She is very strong mentally, wants to take pressure all the time. It’s not a question of her not being able to take pressure, but she is a fast shooter while the finals call for the waiting game,” said Agashe about the young Mumbai shooter who fetched a silver medal in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
Agashe said it was just a question of fine-tuning her for one or two months with focus on shooting in the finals.
“Pressure is not the issue but the rhythm is (in the finals),” is what he feels.
While Ayonika entered the final, the other two entrants — 16-year-old CWG gold medallist Apurvi Chandela finished 12th with an overall score of 413.8 and Raj Chaudhary finished way behind at 35th with a tally of 407.6.
The team, as a whole, got the 6th position with an overall aggregate of 1239.1. China won the team gold with 1253.8, Iran took the silver on the strength of a 1-2 finish from gold-medallist Khedmati Najmeh and E A Narges. They tallied 1245.9 points while hosts Korea (1241.6) grabbed the bronze.
There was also a small controversy when the third Chinese shooter and eventual bronze winner Zhang Bin Bin was first eliminated from the competition for her rifle’s weight not conforming to the limits imposed for the competition.
The Chinese appealed against the verdict which was upheld and the shooter was re-instated after Iran had been declared the winners of the team event.
Heena Sidhu, who started the year on a high when she reached world no. 1 ranking before slipping down the ladder, said she took up 25m pistol “as I did not want to put all my eggs in one basket”.
“The world over, shooters take part in 2-3 events so that if one event does not go well, you can lift yourself up for the next event. I took this up one year ago but that was for only 10 days and then there was a break. I had prepared for this only for 15 days. I, in fact, had been doing well in
dueling (rapid fire) than precision shooting in my practice sessions,” she said.
Sidhu said she could have done better than what she performed today but pointed out that because of her display in an unfamiliar event, the team could win the bronze.
“Rahi and Anisa are experts in dueling. For me it’s a new event. Dueling is more dynamic. The only thing is I took time today to settle down. I am happy I have done my best and shot a respectable score and the team got the bronze.
“I went into this event with an open mind and am sure I will be ready after a few more matches,” she added.