Akhil Sheoran was the headline for India with his bronze in men’s 50m rifle three positions at the ISSF World Championship, which also meant a quota spot for next year’s Paris Olympics.
It could well have been super Sunday for India but Rhythm, who recovered from a sluggish start in qualification to make the final, missed out on a quota spot narrowly in women’s 25m pistol .
Rhythm finished 8th in qualification with a score of 583 to be the last name to make the final. Esha (581) 16th and Manu (580) 22nd missed out. The qualification was topped by Chen Chia Tien (591) of Chinese Taipei, a two-time Olympian at London and Tokyo.
Esha Singh (581) and Manu Bhaker (580) finished 16th and 22nd respectively.
Rhythm’s late resurgence on Sunday isn’t surprising as she has been making waves in the event for a while. She shot a brilliant rapid series (299) to total 583 and qualify for the final. It was a superb effort considering she had only 284 in precision a day before.
At the World Cup at Baku in May, Rhythm shot 595 to beat a 29-year-old world record, but a medal had eluded her there too.
In the final, as the tussle for the top-three spots was on, Rhythm was engaged in the fight for the Olympic quota with Chen, but the latter pipped the Indian to the seventh spot and quota.
The gold went to Tokyo Olympian Doreen Vennekamp of Germany with 40 (591), silver went to Ukraine’s Olena Kostevych with 31 (584), 2004 Athens Olympic gold medallist. Tokyo Olympian Agate Rasmane with 25 (586) was the bronze medallist and also secured the Olympic quota for Latvia.
Thailand’s Tanyaporn Prucksakorn (5th) and Korea’s Jiin Yang (6th) clinched the other two quotas.
Akhil’s bronze with a score of 450 (585) was double delight for India’s Austrian national coach Farnik Thomas as the gold and quota went to his former teammate Alexander Schmirl with 462.6 (586). The 33-year-old Alexander is a 2016 Rio Olympian and a bronze medallist from the 2022 Cairo World Championship.
The silver went to Tokyo Olympian Petr Nymbursky 459.2 (586) of Czech Republic.
Switzerland’s Christoph Duerr (5th) and Finland’s Aleksi Leppa (6th) took the other two quotas in this event.
Joy written all over, Akhil said the medal meant a lot to him. “We have been working hard for this Championship as it comes once in four years and provides a great opportunity to participate in the Olympics, and I got both,” he said.
There was some regret though as Akhil felt he could have pushed more for the gold/silver even though the margin was a lot. “The quota is an achievement and I would like to dedicate it to my country, federation and all those supporting me, including my family,” he said.
Akhil won gold at the 2018 Guadalajara World Cup and bronze at the 2022 Cairo World Championship.
This is India’s second Olympic quota after Mehuli’s spot on Saturday and fifth overall in shooting.
Bhowneesh Mendiratta (men’s trap), Rudrankksh Patil (men’s 10m air rifle) and Swapnil Kusale (men’s 50m rifle three positions) won Olympic quotas at last year’s World Championship.
The other Indians in the fray, Tokyo Olympian Aishwary Pratap Singh Tomar’s 583 placed him 13th and Niraj Kumar was placed 40th with a score of 577.
India lie third on the medals tally with 3 gold and 3 bronze behind China (7 gold, 3 silver, 3 bronze) and USA (3 gold, 1 silver).
Its 2/2 Quota in 50M 3 Position Men through Akhil Sheoran. Im very happy today. 50M events are close to my heart, & its great to see Indians have stepped up in this too!Worked closely with both quota winners and having bench strength like Aishwary, Im sure we are ready for…
— Joydeep Karmakar OLY (@Joydeep709) August 20, 2023