Vivek Malik struck like a bolt from the blue as he beat an array of renowned shooters in winning the air pistol gold in the 10th Sardar Sajjan Singh Sethi Masters shooting championship here on Wednesday.

It was his first competition in the men’s section at the national level.

The 21-year-old from Baraut, a small city in Baghpat district of Uttar Pradesh, was a surprise entry in the final, but marched all the way to the gold with a total of 199.1. He beat national championship silver medallist Jitu Rai by 1.4 points, while national champion Amanpreet Singh was reduced to the bronze medal.

The final had other prominent shooters in Commonwealth Games triple gold medallist Omkar Singh, the best sportsman of the 2006 CWG in Melbourne, Samaresh Jung, apart from Gurpreet Singh, who had topped the qualifiers with 578, Amit Pilaniya and Om Prakash.

There was no trace of the hidden talent in Malik, trained by Farooq Ali, as he had finished 11th in air pistol and 12th in free pistol among the juniors in the last National championship. He had been training on manual targets under open air when he found himself eligible for the elite Masters competition, mainly on the basis of his free pistol performance. Quite noticeably, he did not figure among the invited shooters for men’s air pistol or juniors.

He entered air pistol as a double starter along with free pistol and made the final in the seventh place with a total of 569.

Strong start

Malik started strongly by leading with 30.8 on the first three shots in the final and stayed in the lead throughout, except for being pushed to the second position twice by Jitu Rai after the sixth and tenth shots. He led by 1.7 points before the last two shots, when Army’s Jitu bridged the gap to 1.4. Both had 9.3 on the last shot.

In the youth section, the Asian Youth Games silver medallist Shainki Nagar, who had won the only shooting medal for India in Nanjing, China, was pushed to the bronze medal by Vishal Kumar Chouhan and Mohit Gour.

Tejaswini on top

In women’s 50-metre rifle 3-position event, world champion Tejaswini Sawant asserted her class with a stand- out performance in the standing section of the final as she beat Lajja Gauswami by 3.4 points for the gold. She had trailed Lajja by 2.2 points after 30 shots in the kneeling and prone positions.

While Meena Kumari took the bronze, triple Olympian Anjali Bhagwat, the air rifle silver medallist who had topped the qualifiers with a score of 576, was pushed to the fifth place.

The results: Men: 10m air pistol: 1. Vivek Malik 199.1 (570); 2. Jitu Rai 197.7 (575); 3. Amanpreet Singh 177.2 (569). Juniors: 1. Arun 569; 2. Karan Pratap Randhawa 568; 3. Sumedh Kumar 568. Youth: 1. Vishal Kumar Chauhan 564; 2. Mohit Gour 561; 3. Shainki Nagar 557.

Women: 50m rifle 3-position: 1. Tejaswini Sawant 453.6 (574); 2. Lajja Gauswami 450.2 (572); 3. Meena Kumari 436.8 (572). Juniors: 1. Elizabeth Susan Koshy 573; 2. Anjum Moudgil 565; 3. Chahat Deep Kaur 555.

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