The rush for Olympic quotas is gathering pace in Changwon, Korea. From India perspective, Arjun Babuta and teen prodigy Tilottama Sen were the heroes, claiming silver in men and women’s 10m air rifle, respectively, at the 15th Asian Shooting Championship on Friday.
It was about ticking key boxes along the way. Arjun’s top qualification score of 633.4 also played a hand in India bagging the team gold, and the double silver in 10m air rifle completed India share of a maximum two quotas each in the men’s and women’s event. Rudrankksh Patil and Mehuli Ghosh are the other quota winners from earlier competitions.
From Tilottama perspective, it was making up for the miss at the Baku World Championship in August. The 15-year-old had finished fourth but still could not win a quota since a country was eligible for only one quota in an event of the same competition, which was won by Mehuli.
The gold in the men 10m air rifle went to Tokyo Olympic silver medallist Sheng Lihao of China with a score of 252.1 (631.6) which was 0.9 point more than Arjun in the final. The bronze and the second quota on offer was won by Japan Naoya Okada with 230.6 (629.3). Tokyo Olympian Divyansh Singh Panwar finished fourth with 209.6 after shooting the third-best qualification score of 632.3.
Karthik Ravishankar (631.5) and Rudrankksh Patil (630.8) also finished among the top eight but could not enter the final as they were competing for ranking points only (RPO) and were not eligible. Hriday Hazarika (626.7) finished 21st.
The trio of Arjun, Divyansh and Hriday combined for the team gold with a score of 1892.4. China (1887.3) and Japan (1883.6) settled for silver and bronze.
Tilottama, who took to shooting during the pandemic to stay occupied in those turbulent times, has made the podium a regular stop since she started competing on the world stage in 2022. It could well have been gold for her, but Tokyo Olympian Eunji Kwon of Korea with a score of 252.4 (632.0) pipped her to gold by the thinnest possible margin of 0.1 point. Eunji, who had finished 7th at Tokyo Olympics, secured the second quota on offer in the event.
Ramita Jindal, who had won bronze at the Hangzhou Asian Games, bagged another bronze with a score of 230.6. The team bronze also came India way with Tilottama, Ramita and Shriyanka Sadangi compiling 1886.2 to finish behind China (1890.7) and Singapore (1886.8).
In qualification, it was Tokyo Olympian Elavenil Valarivan who was the best Indian on view as she shot 631.5 to be placed third. However, she wasnÔÇÖt eligible for a spot in the final as she was shooting for ranking points only (RPO). Tilottama shot 630.5 to be sixth while Nancy (630.3) also finished among the top eight but could not enter the final as she too was competing for RPO. Ramita (629.5) finished 11th but made it to the final as four shooters above her were shooting for RPO. Shriyanka Sadangi (626.2) finished 26th.
Anant jeet Singh Naruka and Darshna Rathore bagged gold in the skeet mixed team after beating Kuwait 40-37 in the gold medal match.
Kuwait had topped the qualification round with 140 while India ousted Korea and Qatar in a shoot-off to make the gold medal match.
This was Naruka’s second gold after the team gold on Wednesday. The Hangzhou Asian Games silver medallist however missed out on a medal and a quota after finishing fourth in the individual event.
China beat Korea 37-35 in the first bronze medal match while Qatar defeated Japan 41-34 for the second bronze.
Indian shooters have bagged 10 quotas so far, seven in rifle, two in shotgun and one in pistol.
China leads the medal tally with 12 gold, 9 silver and 7 bronze while India follows with 8 gold, 7 silver and 4 bronze.