ISSF World C'ships: Mitharwal secures maiden gold as Bhaker, Sidhu falter

CHANGWON,4th Sep: Om Prakash Mitharwal won his maiden gold medal at the ISSF World Championships as he won the 50m pistol event in Changwon, South Korea on Tuesday even as Manu Bhaker and Heena Sidhu faltered in the 10m air pistol event. Earlier in the year, Mitharwal has bagged a bronze medal in the 10m air pistol and the 50m pistol events but in Changwon, he shot a score of 564 to bag the top prize. The silver medallist Serbia's Damir Mikec finished with a score of 562 while the bronze went to local favourite Daemyung Lee (560).

India's veteran shooter Jitu Rai, who had bagged a silver medal in the 2014 edition of the tournament, disappointment after his below-par shooting left him at the 17th place with a score of 552. Changwon World Championships is the first qualifying event for the 2020 Olympics but since 50m pistol is no longer a part of the Games roster, there were no quota places to be sealed. The tournament by the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) is offering as many as 60 berths across 15 events.

In the team competition of the same category, Mitharwal, Rai and Manjit (532) combined for a fifth-place finish with a total score of 1648. Manjit signed off 56th in the individual field, failing to make the finals along with Rai. Even though Mitharwal could not have booked an Olympic quota even with the gold, the women shooter in the 10m air pistol event had the opportunity to seal their Olympic qualification. However, Heena Sidhu and Manu Bhaker both failed.

16-year-old Manu Bhaker, who endured a medal-less Asian Games campaign, and senior shooter Heena Sidhu were off-colour and both failed to make the finals. Bhaker shot a score of 574 to be 13th, while Sidhu was further down at 29th with a total of 571. The Indian team finished fourth with Bhaker, Sidhu and Shweta Singh (568) combining for a total of 1713.

On Monday, Anjum Moudgil and Apurvi Chandela became the first set of Indian shooters to secure quota places for the Olympics by winning a silver and finishing fourth respectively in the women's 10m air rifle event. Though the two shooters have secured quotas, as per the stated policy, the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) will take the final call on selection, based on the aggregate scores of shooters (in international tournaments and selection trials) leading up to the Olympic Games.

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