A day after he suffered the heartbreak of missing out on a podium finish and an Olympic quota in the 25m rapid fire pistol, Army shooter Gurpreet Singh regrouped and made amends on Sunday, clinching a Rio berth for India in the 10m air pistol event.
Gurpreet scored 154.8 points to finish fourth in a total field of 138 shooters at the ISSF World Cup in Munich. Even though he could not manage a podium finish, Gurpreet did enough to win an Olympic quota for India – their fifth in shooting. His task was made relatively easy after he reached the final, considering half of the eight finalists had already booked an Olympic place. Four shooters, including Gurpreet, were vying for three quotas on offer in Sunday’s final. Others in contention were Sun Yang of China, South Korea’s Lee Daemyung and Croat Uros Kacavenda.
Gurpreet entered the final after a dramatic qualifying round, where he edged out compatriot Jitu Rai by just one point to finish eighth and clinch the last spot for the final. Jitu, who has already booked an Olympic quota in the 50m free pistol event, shot a total of 578, one point short of Gurpreet.
Gurpreet had reached the final of 25m rapid fire on Saturday and came agonisingly close to a podium finish. He looked good to winning a silver medal at one stage before bowing out in fourth post a three-way tie and a shoot-off in the second stage of the final.
With the disappointment still fresh in his memory, Gurpreet yet again got off to a shaky start in the final. However, he was never in danger to be knocked out early. And once Kacavenda bowed out after 10 shots, Gurpreet was assured of a quota place. Failure to shoot scores of 10 consistently meant he could not pose a challenge for podium place and Gurpreet settled for fourth place, bowing out with a poor 8.9 in his 16th and final shot. Portugal’s Joao Costa, who had been missing a World Cup gold for eight years, won two in three days. He clinched the yellow metal in 50m pistol on Friday and completed the double after he finished on top of the podium on Sunday as well with a score of 201.4. Japan’s Tomoyuki Matsuda won silver with 200.4 points while Yang clinched the bronze with 177.3 points.
The back-to-back fourth place finishes are his best performances at the World Cups since the Sydney World Cup in 2010, where he had managed a similar finish. His best performance in an international event has been the podium finish at the Asian Championships in Tehran two years ago, when he won bronze medal. However, he has not managed anything of note since then.
A double Commonwealth Games (Delhi 2010) gold medallist, Gurpreet had disappointing outings at the Changwon and Fort Benning World Cups earlier this year. This is the second quota place India have managed in Munich after Abhinav Bindra won a berth in the 10m air rifle last Thursday. Apart from them, Jitu Rai, Apurvi Chandela and Gagan Narang too have won quota places for the country.