Imran Hasan Khan displayed nerves of steel as he claimed the gold in Men’s 10m Air Rifle at the 59th National Shooting Championship being held in New Delhi.
The 32-year-old Army shooter, tallied 207.6 points in an audience packed hall with loud cheering and drum beats to become the new national champion.
Abhinav Bindra’s decision to skip the finals did rob the home fans of a thrilling contest with Gagan Narang.
However, Army’s Imran Khan and Chain Singh provided the thrills as they were in no mood to make things easy for Narang who finally settled for silver ahead of Chain Singh.
The shoot-off between Gagan and Chain added the extra thrill after the 18th shot in the finals. Gagan shot a 10.2 against a 9.8 shot by Chain.
Imran who had qualified in the second place 2.7 point behind Bindra with a total of 624.2, shot very well in the finals to claim the gold.
Having been left out of the Asian Olympic qualifying event to be held at the same venue in January, Imran was obviously hurt and upset. He was keen to establish his credentials yet again and did so in style with his second National title.
Speaking to indianshooting.com, Imran Khan said, “I am upset that I have not been considered to be in the team for the Asian Olympic qualifying event to be held at the same venue — the Dr. Karni Singh Shooting Range — next month.
Imran feels that he has been a bit unlucky when it comes to Olympic selection.
Ironically, Imran had not been selected to represent the country despite winning the Olympic quota place in the last Asian championship. The National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) had exchanged his rifle Olympic quota for the women’s air pistol quota place for Heena Sidhu for the London Olympics.
“Last time when I had won an Olympic quota for 2012 London Olympics, Heena was sent and this time am not even in the race to win a quota. My average scores are higher than the three shooters named in the air rifle team. I feel if I am in the team I can again win a quota for my country”, said Imran just after the finals..
The officials were once again seen struggling to get the calculations right during the finals as the electronic scoring system failed to work properly yet again. “I did some holding and dry to maintain my rhythm as there were multiple pauses during the finals”, added Khan.
Satyendra Singh who placed fifth in the Asian Championship finished fourth, while Manpreet Singh, Aribam dicky Sharma and Sanjeev Rajput placed fifth to seventh respectively.
Men’s 10m Air Rifle: 1. Imran Hasan Khan 207.6 (624.2); 2. Gagan Narang 203.6 (620.0); 3. Chain Singh 183.7 (623.8).
Junior Men’s 10m Air Rifle – 1. Manpreet Singh 621.0; 2. Milan Preet Singh 619.5; 3. Lokender 618.7.
Youth Men’s 10m Air Rifle – 1. Lokender 618.7; 2. Paarth Makhija 616.7; 3. Vinayakumar Shashikant Patil 614.8.