Displaying maturity way beyond his 16 years, India’s Visnu Shivaraj Pandian won the bronze medal and a prize money of $500 at the ‘Champion of Champions’ event of the President of Indonesia Open Tournament on Sunday.
Jasmine Ser of Singapore won the gold with a score of 249.8 while the silver was won by Korea’s Keum Jihyeon 0.1 point behind.
It was a proud moment for former India shooter and coach Shimon Sharif to watch his young shooter do the country proud in an international competition organized by the Indonesian Shooting Association. Visnu, who trains at the Delhi-based Topgun Shooting Academy, had earlier topped the qualification with a score of 629.7 in 10m air rifle on Thursday.
It isn’t for nothing that the 16-year-old shooter is termed a prospect to watch out for in the coming years. In recent times at training, Visnu has shot more than the world record on several occasions with a personal best of 637.0 (3.5 points more than the world record).
Visnu held his ground in the final which boasted of stalwarts like World No.6 and Asian Games silver medallist Jung Eunhea, ISSF World Cup bronze medallist Keum Jihyeon, Olympian Cheon Min Ho, who won two gold at the ISSF World Cups in 2004, and World No.18 Nam Tae Yun, all from Korea, Olympian and World Cup bronze medallist Jasmine Ser of Singapore, reigning African champion Osama Elsaeid of Egypt and Indonesia’s Olympic quota winner Vidya Rafika Rahmatan.
Visnu had a shaky start on Sunday with identical 10.1s but bounced back with some good shots. He was placed fifth after the first 10 shots and even took the lead after the 14th and 16th shots. It was a neck-and-neck fight between Jasmine, Keum and Visnu before the Indian teenager got eliminated after the 22nd shot following scores of 10.3 and 10.4 off his final shots. In fact, the uncertainty in sport came to the fore as Visnu scored 10.6 and 10.2 for the best show among the top three in the 19th and 20th shots. Tied second with Jasmine at 208.4, the duo trailed Keum by 0.4 points.
Richer from the experience, an elated Visnu said, “I enjoyed participating in the competition with all the international shooters. This has been a valuable learning experience for me. I thank the organizers and fellow shooters for making this a memorable event. A special thanks to my coach Shimon Sharif for the excellent training”.
In order to prepare Visnu for the finals, Shimon enlisted the help of Austria’s Olympic quota winner, Martin Strempfl, and made the two compete in three back-to-back ‘Race to 10’ matches. Incidentally, Martin also happens to be the world’s most experienced shooter in online competitions, and the training with the best obviously helped Visnu on Sunday.
Despite the lockdown and competitions drying up worldwide due to the pandemic, Visnu has improved steadily with the help of online training and competitions. Recently, he had outgunned big names like Martin and World No.27 Etienne Germond of France to win gold in 10m air rifle at the 5th edition of the International Online Shooting Championship (IOSC) organized by indianshooting.com.
10m Air Rifle: 1. Jasmine Ser (Singapore) 249.8 (625.2); 2. Keum Jihyeon (Korea) 249.7 (628.4); 3. Visnu Shivaraj Pandian (India) 229.1 (629.7).