Continuing his rich form this year, Aishwary Pratap Singh Tomar struck gold in men’s 50m rifle three positions at the 66th National Shooting Championship in New Delhi on Sunday.
The 22-year-old, who trains at the Madhya Pradesh State Shooting Academy under Olympian Joydeep Karmakar, had set a national record of 593 to top qualification at the Karni Singh Shooting Range on Saturday. Olympic quota winners Swapnil Kusale (589) and Akhil Sheoran (586) of the Railways were placed fourth and fifth, respectively.
Aishwary maintained his stranglehold in the final on Sunday and topped with 463.7. Swapnil settled for silver with a score of 460.1 and bronze went to Maharashtra Vedant Waghmare with 448.1 (589). Akhil could not shoot in the final as he had to leave for the ISSF World Cup Final in Doha after the qualification round on Saturday.
Among juniors, Deependra Singh Shekhawat of Rajasthan won gold with a score of 459.4 (582), and was followed by Gujarat Nikhil Tanwar with 458.6 (585) and Waghmare with 444.6 (589). Joydeep’s son Adriyan Karmakar finished 4th with a score 434.1 (585).
In prolific touch for most of this year, Aishwary has shot 591 thrice in recent times — the Hangzhou Asian Games, Asian Shooting Championship in Changwon and the Goa National Games, where he won gold, and went two points better at the ongoing Nationals to set the national record of 593.
Joydeep, who finished 4th in men’s 50m rifle prone at the 2012 London Olympics, lauded his ward performance. With two Olympic quotas in men’s 50m rifle three positions by Swapnil and Akhil, it seems the event has great promise ahead. Most interestingly, the emergence of Aishwary as the strongest contender in this event makes it more robust. In fact, it is Aishwary who is leading the ranking amongst the trio. His recent gold-winning spree at the Asian Shooting Championship, National Games and National Championship with world-beating scores speaks volumes that nothing below perfection is on his mind. With equal Quota Bonus Points (according to the policy) for all the three shooters, the race for supremacy for Olympic selection between the three is keen. But at the end of the day, the best two will go to Paris.”
Tokyo Olympian Aishwary stars have been on the upswing after a disappointing World Championship at Baku, where he finished 13th. The Asian Games proved to be a game-changer as he emerged among the best Indian shooters on view in Hangzhou, bagging two gold and a silver and bronze apiece.
Despite the Olympic quotas taken up previously, the World No 6 did not let that hold him back at the Asian Shooting Championship, and claimed gold again.
The Paris Olympics less than a year away, the omens are good for Aishwary as a potential medal hopeful.