More than medals, the 15th Asian Shooting Championship has been about securing Olympic quotas.
That incentive was missing for Aishwary Pratap Singh Tomar in Changwon with the two quotas in men’s 50m rifle three positions already taken up by teammates Akhil Sheoran and Swapnil Kusale in earlier competitions.
But that was not a dampener for the 22-year-old Aishwary as he reached for the summit and claimed gold with a score of 463.5.
Tian Jiaming (462.7) of China won the silver and Olympic quota while another Chinese and Bhopal World Cup gold medallist Du Linshu (450.3) took the bronze. The second quota in the event went to Konstantin Malinovskiy of Kazakhstan who finished 5th with a score of 427.1 (590).
Aishwary was clearly riding on success of the Hangzhou Asian Games, where he was top of the heap as the most successful Indian shooter with 2 gold, 1 silver and 1 bronze. Not only did he improve upon the colour of the medal, the final score on Wednesday was an improvement by 3.8 points.
In qualification, Aishwary shot 591, identical to what he shot at the Asian Games. Quota winners Akhil (587) and Swapnil (586) could not make the final, finishing 9th and 11th respectively. The other Indians in action were Goldi Gurjar (585) and Niraj Kumar (582) shooting for ranking points only (RPO).
Du won the qualification with a world record of 597 and along with Tian (595) and Yu Hao (587) won the the team gold for China with a world record of 1777, bettering the 1769 set by India at the Hangzhou Asian Games. Aishwary, Akhil and Swapnil shot 1764 to win the team silver. The bronze was for Japan with a score of 1760.
In the final, Aishwary was consistent and took the lead once the elimination round started in the standing position. He lost the lead briefly to Tian after registering an 8.8 in the third-last shot but sealed the gold with two strong 10.8 and 10.7 at the end.
The podium on Wednesday featured the same names as the Asian Games, but in a different order. Du had won gold, Aishwary silver and Tian bronze in Hangzhou.
Tokyo Olympian Aishwary showed why is he the World No 7 by claiming his second individual gold this year after the gold at the Cairo World Cup. He had also won gold at 2022 Changwon World Cup and 2021 Delhi World Cup.
China topped the medal tally with 33 gold, 21 silver and 22 bronze while India was second with 21 gold, 21 silver and 13 bronze.