Gurpal Singh of the Army stood out in a strong field of 96 to clinch the 50-metre free pistol gold in the 54th National shooting championship at the Dr. Karni Singh Range, Tughlakabad, here on Tuesday.
Gurpal shot 556 in qualification and beat teammate Om Prakash by 2.4 points for his maiden gold in the championship.
He had won bronze in the national championship in Bangalore a few years ago.
“I expected to shoot a better score both in the qualification and the final, but am very happy with the gold,” said Gurpal.
He gratefully acknowledged the role of Russian coaches Pavel Smirnov and Yury Lisichko for the strong performance of the Army which took the team gold apart from four shooters who qualified for the individual finals.
“It is a surprise for me to win the gold, after seven years of struggle,” said Gurpal, who has been part of the national squad both in air pistol and free pistol.
It was a splendid performance by both Gurpal and Om Prakash to have outclassed the Commonwealth Games gold medallist Omkar Singh of Navy.
Om Prakash overcame a three-point deficit to eventually clinch the silver.
“Most of us are equal. It depends on the day. I will train harder to get better scores and results in future,” said Om Prakash, who had won the air pistol gold in the last national championship in Kerala.
Coach Lisichko said that it was great to find Gurpal break the mental barrier and said that the army shooters had started getting quality scores on realising their potential.
R.S. Rai (635.9), Viraj Singh (635.8), Kaikhusru Irani (635.2) and Vijay Singh (634.1) were the others to make the final, and were placed fifth to eighth in that order.
Civilian gold for Irani
Irani had the consolation of winning the civilian gold from among 66. He got a helping hand from Samaresh Jung during the final, when his battery had failed.
The seasoned Samaresh Jung missed the final by one point with a total of 541. Amanpreet Singh was 16th with a total of 536, while Zakir Khan was 18th with a score of 534.
Pistol expert Jaspal Rana who shot with an inappropriate weapon could muster only a total of 489 that placed him 83rd.
He would, however, be competing mainly in rapid fire pistol.
Meanwhile, there was an overwhelming response of 588 shooters for the men's air pistol.
Men: Free pistol: 1. Gurpal Singh 648.1 (556); 2. Om Prakash 645.7 (549); 3. Omkar Singh 643.6 (552).
Team: 1. Army 1633; 2. ITBP 1605; 3. Navy 1593.
Juniors: 1. Akshay Jain 542; 2. Ravinder 530; 3. Monu Tomar 523.
Team: 1. Army 1539; 2. NCC 1483; 3. Maharashtra 1476.