A day back, Divyansh Singh Panwar was calm after his match at the Beijing World Cup. He had just stepped off the podium, gold medal around his neck, after winning the 10 m air rifle mixed event with Anjum Moudgil. The reason for his composure, as the India junior rifle high performance coach Suma Shirur mentioned, was that a bigger competition awaited him.
On Friday, the 16-year-old was on the podium again, winning silver in the individual air rifle event. He was the youngest player to make it to the final on the day, the only one to shoot only one shot below 10.0 in the final, and one of only three in that eight-man final to score a perfect 10.9 shot – Panwar’s came at the most opportune moment, taking him up from third to second.
“To win a medal for India has always been my dream and I am happy to have done that today also,” he says after the match. “There was some pressure, but that’s also in the case of a junior, state or national championship.”
The numbers pushed him up the rank, and with it, earned India a quota for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Since the country already holds two quotas in the women’s air rifle event, with Panwar’s third, India can now field a mixed rifle team in Japan.
Panwar was just six when Abhinav Bindra won the country’s only individual gold medal at the 2008 Olympics – Panwar’s silver comes in the very same city as Bindra’s triumph.
“I’ve never met him, but I have seen him during competitions,” says the youngster. “As a 10m air rifle shooter, all of us aspire to be like him. Maybe I will be able to (meet) him in the future.” Incidentally, Bindra had won the 10m air rifle Olympic gold at the same venue in 2008.
His total score in the final, 249.0, was higher than the gold medal score at the 2018 World Championships in Changwon, and the 629.2 that he notched in the qualifiers – which is his highest score in international competition – would have ranked him fifth in the qualification round of there.
Here’s the break down of how the youngster, in only his second senior-level World Cup, rose from being a shooting rookie to a surprise medallist, earning India a quota.
Panwar scored a tally of 629.2 to finish third, behind veteran Hungarian Peter Sidi (629.7) and Russian Vladimir Maslennikov (632.7). In qualification, Panwar consistently hit high scoring shots, falling below the 10.0 mark just once – when he scored 9.9 in the 10th shot of the first series.
Finals: First competition stage, Series 1
Panwar started strongly with a shot of 10.7, followed by a good 10.6 before finishing with a score of 52.0 which put him in second place. In the lead was China’s Zicheng Hui, who already holds an Olympic quota, with a score of 52.8. Should Hui finish the finals in the top two, then the remaining podium finishers would earn a spot at Tokyo.
Finals: First competition stage, Series 2
Another strong start with a 10.6 and 10.7, but Panwar dropped the pace a notch as he ended the series at 103.7 and fell a spot down to third place. Russian Grigorii Shamakov overtook the youngster with a score of 103.9, while Hui remained in the lead with 105.5. The elimination round started next.
Finals: Elimination stage, Series 1
Panwar shot 10.4 and 10.3 to take his tally to 124.4. He remained in third place behind Shamakov (125.0) and Hui (126.2). South Korea’s Taeyun Nam was eliminated (119.5).
Finals: Elimination stage, Series 2
Panwar started well with a near-perfect 10.8, but then drops with a 9.5 – which would be the only time in the final that he shot below 10.1. His tally was now 144.7, and he’s now joint at fourth place with Omer Akgun of Turkey. Sidi had overtaken Panwar to go into third (144.8), Shamakov in second (146.0) and Hui continued to lead (147.4). At this point, Panwar had dropped out of the medal and Olympic quota range. Shao Chuan Lu of Taiwan was eliminated with a score of 142.6.
Finals: Elimination stage, Series 3
Sidi started with a low 9.9 and slipped down. Panwar meanwhile scored two shots of 10.3, and was now joint third (165.3) with two others — Maslennikov and Akgun. Shamakov remained in second (166.4) and Hui led (167.7). Sidi was knocked out (165.1).
Finals: Elimination stage, Series 4
Starting joint third with two other shooters, and with only five players left, Panwar shot an important 10.5 followed by an even better 10.7 to take his tally up to 186.5. He was now 0.2 points behind second-placed Shamakov (186.7), while Hui continued to lead with 188.4. Panwar was back third, back in medal contention and in position for a quota.
Akgun was eliminated (185.4).
Finals: Elimination stage, Series 5
Medal confirmed for India, and a quota for the Olympics! A 10.2 and a commanding 10.5 kept Panwar third with 207.2, 0.4 points short of Shamakov (207.6) and Hui on 208.9. Maslennikov was eliminated with a score of 206.7 – 0.5 ahead.
Finals: Elimination stage, Series 6
An excellent start for Panwar with a 10.9, followed by a decent 10.1. But the perfect shot took Panwar up to second position with a score of 228.2, 0.7 points better than third placed Shamakov at 227.5. The Russian was eliminated, winning bronze and an Olympic quota.
Hui still led with 229.5, a gap of 1.3.
Finals: Elimination stage, Series 7 — gold medal round
Hui starts badly with a 9.5 (239.0) and Panwar reduces the gap with a 10.3. (238.5). There’s no 0.5 point gap. Panwar then shoots a 10.5 to take his final score to 249.0. Hui needs a shot of 10.1 for gold, and strikes a 10.4 for the win with a score of 249.4. Panwar settles for silver, but earns a quota at the Olympics for the 10 m air rifle, and India can now also field a team for the air rifle mixed event.