Swapnil Kusale and Ashi Chouksey drew curtains on India’s campaign at the ISSF World Cup in Baku, Azerbaijan with a gold in the 50m Rifle Three Positions Mixed Team, here on Saturday.
The pair of Swapnil and Ashi beat Ukranian’s Serhiy Kulish and Daria Tykhova 16-12 in the gold medal match.
This was India’s second gold in the World Cup after the trio of Elavenil Valarivan, Shreya Agarwal and Ramita clinched a yellow metal in the Women’s 10m Air Rifle Team. Besides, the Indian shooters had also bagged three silvers in the prestigious competition.
It was also Swapnil’s first gold and third medal overall at this World Cup. He had earlier won silver medals in both the Men’s 50m Rifle Three Positions and team events.
In the first qualification stage played earlier in the day, Swapnil and Ashi finished fourth with a combined score of 881 out of 900 to qualify for stage two among 31 teams. The Ukranian pair finished second to march into the top eight stage.
In stage two, the Indian pair finished second with an effort of 583 out of 600. It was the same score as the Ukranians but the Indians topped on countback.
In the final, Ukraine started stronger and opened up a 6-2 lead after the first four single-shot series.
But the Indian pair fought back admirably, winning six of the next eight series to go ahead 14-10.
Serhiy and Daria were not the ones to give up and narrowed the deficit down to 14-12 before Swapnil and Ashi claimed the well-deserved victory.
The Indian tally of two gold and three silver medals is indeed a commendable fare considering that the Indian team had restricted itself to the rifle events, not fielding any shooter in pistol and shotgun.