India embarked on the quest to add to its seven Olympic quotas on the right note with Sarabjot Singh starting the process with bronze in men’s 10m air pistol at the 15th Asian Shooting Championship on Tuesday.
It was a major step up for Sarabjot in Changwon, Korea, as the World No 7 made the final as the eighth shooter to qualify with a score of 581, a point more than his Hangzhou Asian Games score.
In the final, he shot 221.1 to finish behind China Zhang Yifan with a score of 243.7 (587) and Liu Jinyao with 242.1 (582) to earn the eighth Olympic quota for India in shooting and a first in pistol event. Zhang and Liu, who had won silver and gold respectively at the 2022 Cairo World Championship, had already obtained the maximum of two quotas in the event for China in Cairo.
2016 Rio Olympian Johnathan Guanjie Wong of Malaysia claimed the other quota after finishing fourth with a score of 201.1 (582).
Sarabjot was the lone bright spot on the day with Hangzhou Asian Games gold medalist Palak Gulia failing to make the final in women’s 10m air pistol.
Tuesday feat is an extension of Sarabjot form on the world stage, with the Hangzhou Asian Games, the most recent example. Teaming up with Arjun Singh Cheema and Shiva Narwal, Sarabjot had bagged gold in 10m air pistol team, edging out hosts China. Sarabjot made the final in the individual event too but finished fourth. Sarabjot then made it a memorable 22nd birthday in China as he teamed up with Divya Thadigol Subbaraju for silver in mixed team.
Hitting the high notes despite setbacks has become a way with Sarabjot in view of his performance this year. After a gold in men’s 10m air pistol at the Bhopal World Cup and gold in mixed team event at the Baku World Cup, Sarabjot promised a lot for the year mega event, the Baku World Championship in August. It turned out to be mixed bag as Sarabjot and Divya failed to make it to the medal round in mixed team but he redeemed himself by winning a team bronze.
Picking oneself up isnÔÇÖt easy but redemption when the chips are down is what defines an athlete.
Hangzhou, and now Changwon, the future holds out a lot of promise for Sarabjot Singh.
The other Indians in the event, Varun Tomar (578), Kunal Rana (577) and Shiva (576) finished 16th, 17th and 20th respectively. Saurabh Chaudhary, the 2018 Asian Games Champion, shot 569 for 35th place. Varun Tomar and Saurabh Chaudhary competed for ranking points only (RPO).
None of the Indian shooters in women 10m air pistol, including Asian Games Champion Palak Gulia, qualified for the final. Palak (570) finished 25th while Asian Games silver medallist Esha Singh, who was shooting for RPO, shot a score of 576 and finished 13th.
Rhythm Sangwan (577) was the best among the Indians with a 11th place finish. Surbhi Rao (575) finihsed 15th and Ruchita Vinerkar shooting for RPO finished 22nd with a score of 571.
The gold was won by Korea’s Ye Jin Oh with a score of 244.1 (582). World No 2 Jiang Ranxin of China won the silver with 241.8 (580) while Vietnam’s Thu Vinh Trinh took the bronze with 219.7 (581).