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Vijay Kumar asserts his class

Kamesh Srinivasan
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SHOOTING / Rashmee takes gold in women’s skeet

rising to the challenge:Army's Vijay Kumar showed his fighting qualities to beat junior champion Akshay Suhas Ashtaputre in the men’s 25m rapid fire pistol event.— Photo: Sandeep Saxena
rising to the challenge:Army's Vijay Kumar showed his fighting qualities to beat junior champion Akshay Suhas Ashtaputre in the men’s 25m rapid fire pistol event.— Photo: Sandeep Saxena

Olympic silver medallist Vijay Kumar entertained a packed arena with a spell of brilliance at the crunch as he defended the rapid fire pistol title in the 57th National shooting championship at the Dr. Karni Singh Range, Tughlakabad, on Saturday.

Battling his erratic form, the Subedar Major from the Army asserted his fighting qualities as he beat the junior champion Akshay Suhas Ashtaputre of Maharashtra 30-28 after the scores had been tied twice earlier in the gripping climax.

Bad start

It was Vijay Kumar who fought his way forward to bridge the deficit after a below par start, which was perhaps keeping in tune with his bad form in the qualification that saw him make the final with an alarmingly low score of 559.

Multiple Asian Games champion Jaspal Rana also shot the same score to emphasise his renowned natural ability, but it was also a reflection of the mistakes that had crept into Vijay’s technique, which the champion shooter himself admitted frankly later.

The cheering and clapping in the arena reverberated on a wintry evening, long after sunset, as Vijay shot 14 out of 15 possible points at one stage at the business end to be on par with the Maharashtra lad. Vijay needed to shoot a minimum of three, but shot two himself to be on par, after the last series, much to the jubilation of the spectators.

In the tie-beak, Akshay could muster only two again, and Vijay grabbed the second chance to win gold with a score of four.

“We did not have adequate ammunition for practice, and the coach Pavel Smirnov had moved on from the Army to the national squad. I did speak to him during the course of the competition and was able to correct the errors in my technique to shoot better’’, said Vijay.

Applauding the performance of the Maharashtra youngster, who fought strongly for the gold after the seasoned Pemba Tamang, the qualification topper with 580 points, had to settle for the bronze, Vijay said that it augured well for the sport.

On his part Vijay said that he did not fear losing to anyone, as it was part of sport, and was happy that he could rise to the challenge, despite entering every competition after the London Games.

Gold for Man Singh

There was a lot of drama at the skeet range as the former Asian champion Man Singh won his maiden national gold, as he pipped Arozepal Sandhu 14-13. Man Singh had topped the qualifiers with 120, but was second to Arozepal at the end of the semifinals.

In the climax, Man Singh needed to shoot all four on station No. 4 after Arozepal had put the score on the board, and he delivered with supreme confidence and punched the air in celebration.

There was a better celebration in the six-member women’s field, as Rashmee Rathore was quite delighted to do a quick jig after beating the defending and multiple national champion Arti Singh 13-11 in the gold contest.

Rashmee had topped the semifinalists with 14, two points ahead of Arti, after having enjoyed the same margin in the qualification phase.

Former champion Saniya Sheikh settled for the bronze with a strong finish after having trailed the junior champion Jasmine Dhadli at the halfway stage in the shoot-off.

The results:

Men: 25m rapid fire pistol: 1. Vijay Kumar 30 (559); 2. Akshay Suhas Ashtaputre 28 (568); 3. Pemba Tamang 22 (580).

Juniors: 1. Manpreet Singh 555; 2. Rushiraj Atul Barot 548; 3. Sunil Gurung 547.

Skeet: 1. Man Singh 14 (14) 120; 2. Arozepal Sandhu 13 (15) 119; 3. Shreyan Kapoor 12 (13) 116.

Juniors: 1. Angad Vir Singh Bajwa 112; 2. Anantjeet Singh Naruka 110; 3. Mohd. Hamza Sheikh 109.

Women: Skeet: 1. Rashmee Rathore 13 (14) 87; 2. Arti Singh 11 (12) 85; 3. Saniya Sheikh 11 (11) 83.

Juniors: 1. Jasmeen Dhadli 60; 2. Maheshwari Chauhan 52.

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