Olympic silver medallist Vijay Kumar asserted his class as he clinched the rapid fire pistol gold for the umpteenth time in the Sahara 56th National shooting championship at the Dr. Karni Singh Range, Tughlakabad, here on Sunday.

Though the spectators who packed the arena had to strain their eyes to see the computer monitor on the table of the Range Officer to see the ‘hits and misses’, as the main display did not function, Vijay did not leave any confusion about his supremacy as he won the gold with 25 points. Of course, Vijay had to endure rounds of one and two in cold conditions, but led throughout.

Harpreet Singh had a chance to equal Vijay with a perfect round, but shot just one in the last series to take the silver on 21. Pemba Tamang who fired two tie-break series against Gurpreet Singh to win 10-8, confirmed the bronze with 18 points. Pemba had led the qualification with Vijay on 572, but the finalists started on zero as per the rules. In women’s air pistol, Heena Sidhu who had finished 12th in the London Games, won the gold 2.7 points ahead of another Olympian Annu Raj Singh.

The latter led after the first shot, after both had tied on 383 in qualification, but Heena shot with supreme confidence thereafter to sail through, leading with every shot though the lead reduced to 0.3 point at one stage.

Stiff challenge

In men’s free rifle 3-position event, Surendra Singh Rathod warded off a stiff challenge from Olympian Sanjeev Rajput, as he capitalised on a four-point lead before the final. Sanjeev was overtaken to the second place after the eighth shot by Chain Singh, the air rifle gold medallist, but came up with shots of 10.8 and 10.7 to seal the silver with a 1.2 point margin.

In the ‘Champion of Champinos’ pistol event, Sonia Rai of Himachal Pradesh, the first Indian pistol medallist in a World Cup, won the title and the cash prize of Rs.50,000 as she beat Jitu Rai of the Army, 29.7 to 28.4 in the three-shot climax.

It was a big morale-booster for Sonia, particularly after she had missed the women’s air pistol bronze by 0.9 point to Priyanka Susvirkar.

Incidentally, there was some drama as Nausheen Fatima was deducted two points in the shoot-off for reporting late, but for the junior National coach Jaspal Rana’s intervention as he pointed the corrrect rules, saw Devyani Singh Rathore being pulled out from the final line up, and replaced by Nausheen.

The results: Men: 25m rapid fire pistol: 1. Vijay Kumar 25 (572); 2. Harpreet Singh 21 (569); 3. Pemba Tamang 18 (572). Juniors: 1. Vikrant Ghaisas 543; 2. Abdul Gufar 534; 3. Loktongbam Somendro Singh 533.

50m free rifle 3-position: 1. Surendra Singh Rathod 1255.9 (1158); 2. Sanjeev Rajput 1251.6 (1154); 3. Chain Singh 1250.4 (1150). Juniors: 1. Aribam Dicky Sharma 1128 (33x); 2. Brahma Puri Gauswami 1128 (30x); 3. Sanahal Singh 1119. Women: Air pistol: 1. Heena Sidhu 482.5 (383); 2. Annu Raj Singh 479.8 (383); 3. Priyanka Susvirkar 478.8 (378). Juniors: 1. Shreya Gawande 381; 2. Malaika Goel 378; 3. Surabhi Pathak 377. Youth: 1. Shreya Gawande 381; 2. Malaika Goel 378; 3. Manjeet 374.

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