The season’s second ISSF Rifle/Pistol World Cup in Fort Benning, USA came to an end with Jitu Rai and Chain Singh both narrowly missing a final berth because of 10th place finishes in their respective events. It was tough luck for the Commonwealth and Asian Games gold medallist Jitu Rai as he fell out of contention only due to hitting less number of bulls eye in the Men’s 10m Air Pistol event. Only the top eight advanced to the final.
Meanwhile, in Men’s 50m Rifle 3 Positions event, Asian Games bronze medallist Chain Singh missed a place in the final by 2 points.
Low scores in first and fifth series let down Jitu Rai
It was the first and the fifth series scores which were low that eventually led to Jitu Rai finishing 10th out of 95 shooters. With scores of 95, 97, 99, 97, 95 and 97 in the six series, Jitu’s total score was 580. While the 27-year-old hit 14 bull’s eyes, the eighth-placed Vladimir Isakov had hit 12 more and that made the difference.
Among the other Indian contenders in this category, Prakash Nanjappa was the next best at 44th place. Prakash began flawlessly but his subsequent scores dropped significantly. Nanjappa finished with a total score of 574 (100, 97, 95, 95, 94 and 93). The third Indian, Gurpreet Singh finished way below at 91st position. With scores of 92, 95, 92, 89, 96 and 93, he totalled 557.
Narrow miss for Chain Singh
Chain Singh bowed out of Men’s 50m Rifle 3 Positions with a total of 1172 points. His kneeling, prone and standing scores were 390, 396 and 386 respectively. The performance saw him ending 10th out of a field of 65 shooters.
Sanjeev Rajput was the second best Indian in this category. He finished with a total of 1161 (kneeling – 385, prone – 394 and standing – 382) to grab the 40th place. Gagan Narang was the third Indian in this event but it was a disappointing outing for the ace shooter. Narang could only muster a total of 1158 (kneeling – 380, prone – 396 and standing – 382) to end in the 49th position.
Gagan Narang was the only bright spot
Thus, the six-day World Cup wraps up at Fort Benning. London Olympic bronze medallist Gagan Narang was the only medal winner for India. Narang not only brought home the bronze in Men’s 50m Rifle Prone but he also secured India’s third Rio Olympic quota place in shooting.
The only others to manage a top 10 finish were Chain Singh and Jitu Rai on the last day. Changwon World Cup bronze medallist Apurvi Chandela put up a decent performance by grabbing the 14th place in the Women’s 10m Air Rifle event.
Next World Cup in Munich
Indian shooters will look to perform better and clinch a few more Olympic quota places as the third Rifle/Pistol World Cup begins in Munich on 28th May.