Anish Bhanwala had announced his arrival on the international scene at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. A bubbling 15-year-old, he created history by becoming India youngest ever gold medallist at the Games.
Over time, Anish has not lived up to the potential he displayed early on, especially leading to the 15th Asian Shooting Championship. He finished 32nd in men’s 25m rapid fire pistol with a score of 575 at the Baku World Championship and was 22nd with 560 at the Hangzhou Asian Games. Anish was also India big Olympic hope but failed to secure a berth to the Tokyo Olympics.
But he did win a team bronze at the Asian Games and that proved to be a shot in the arm for the 21-year-old from Karnal, Haryana, for the important ongoing competition in Changwon, Korea.
On Monday, Anish won bronze and an Olympic quota after qualifying for the final as the only shooter without a quota. So, the fight in the final was not about winning the quota but about being Asian Champion. This is India’s fifth quota at the Asian Championship and 12th overall.
Anish was involved in a shoot-off with Japan’s Olympian Dai Yoshioka after the two ended with 28 hits after the 35th shot. Dai went in first and could only get 2 hits out of 5, leaving Anish with an excellent chance for atleast a silver. But pressure got the better of Anish and he could only register 1 hit to settle for bronze. The gold was captured by Korea Gunhyeok Lee with a score of 34 (587), one point more than Dai who had qualified for the final with 582. The second quota in the event was won by 9th placed Jong-Ho Song (581) of Korea.
This is the second medal of the year for Anish after bronze at the Cairo World Cup.
In qualification, Anish shot the third-best qualification score of 588. Bhavesh Shekhawat shot 584 to finish 6th but could not enter the final as he was competing for ranking points only (RPO). Vijayveer Sidhu, who came fourth at the Asian Games, shot 581 to finish 10th. Adarsh Singh, who narrowly missed the quota at the Baku World Championship, shot 570 to finish 25th and 2016 Rio Olympian Gurpreet Singh, shooting for RPO, finished 15th with 577.
Just like at the Asian Games, Anish, Vijayveer and Adarsh also won the team bronze with a score of 1739. The gold went to China (1758) and silver to Korea (1748).
In men trap, Zoravar Singh Sandhu made second final in a row after the Asian Games, but again missed out on an individual medal, finishing sixth with a score of 17. At the Asian Games, he had finished fifth.
The podium finishers were China Yi Qing (47), Saeed Abusharib (43), both of whom bagged Olympic quotas, and Iran 53-year-old Seyed Babak Rohollahi won bronze with 32 (117), in his first international appearance.
The seasoned Zoravar was second in qualification with a score of 119. Lakshay was the next best Indian at 12th with 113 in RPO. Prithviraj Tondaiman (111) finihsed 16th and Kynan Chenai, who won bronze at the Asian Games, finished 17th with 111. Shooting for RPO, Olympic quota winner Bhowneesh Mendiratta scored 110 to finish 22.
Zoravar, Kynan and Prithviraj won the team silver with a score of 341. The trio had won gold at the Asian Games with a Games record of 361. The gold went to Qatar (344) and bronze to Iran (340).
In women’s trap, Olympic quota winner Rajeshwari Kumari was the best among the five Indians in action, finishing seventh with a score of 108. A point back was 2012 London Olympian Shagun Chowdhary, shooting for RPO. Preeti Rajak finished 10th with a score of 103, and was followed by Manisha Keer (98) on 17th, and Sabeera Haris (94) at 21st.
The trio of Preeti, Manisha and Sabeera finished 4th in the team event with a score of 295. Gold went to China (322), silver to Korea (314) and bronze to Kazakhstan (299).
The individual gold and Olympic quota was bagged by three-time Olympian Ray Bassil of Lebanon with a total of 40 (114). She was followed by Korea Seonah Cho with 37 (111), who also got a quota, and China Tokyo Olympian Wang Xiaojing with 31 (112).
China continues to lead the medals tally with 27 gold, 11 silver and 14 bronze. Korea overtook India at second with 9 gold, 12 silver and 11 bronze. India has 8 gold, 14 silver and 8 bronze.