Jaspal on target in standard pistol

BISLEY, AUG. 30. Anjali Vedpathak asserted her class once again by defending the sport rifle 3-position gold, with record scores, in the fourth Commonwealth Shooting Championship at the Malcolm Cooper Range here on Thursday. It was the third gold for the 32- year-old Anjali, and the second from an individual event following the one in air rifle.

The CISF inspector from Mumbai, established a seven- point lead over Susan McCready of Australia, with a 582, an effort that erased Suma Dixit's modest 573 set in Auckland in 1999.

``I have been working hard for this score for a long time. The silver in the World Cup finals recently went at 582. I bought ammunition in Munich after the last World Cup when I shot 576, and the Russian cartridges have really helped me shoot this well. I spent Rs. 10,000 on it, but it is worth every rupee'', said Anjali, quite pleased with her effort.

It was not a great final, but Anjali ensured that she won with a 5.6 point margin, with a total of 676.2 that erased her own mark of 670.8 set in the last edition.

``I didn't get the grouping after the second shot, but I had a good lead and thus didn't have to worry about the gold slipping away'', said Anjali, who shot 9.2, 9.7, 9.8, 8.9, 8.6, 9.0, 9.9, 10.3, 10.0 and 8.8 in the final

On a gloomy day of bleak weather, it was a creditable fare from Anjali as she maintained a high standard, in a range that was open to the elements without so much as the wind- breakers. She had consistent scores in all the three positions - prone, standing and kneeling-as she returned a series of 97, 99, 97, 94, 97 and 98.

Kuheli Gangulee recovered some of her lost form to clinch the bronze with a 663.8, as she followed a 573 in the preliminary series when she had scores of 96, 94, 92, 94, 94 and 98, with a decent fare in the final.

Kuheli was thus able to deny a medal, by a 1.2 point margin, for Anuja Tere who shot well in the final after a 568. The Railway employee from Mumbai had a series of 96, 94, 92, 94, 94 and 98.

Rebecca Spicer of England had set a hot pace for the day when she shot two 100s to open her account, but the 21-year- old could not maintain the exacting standard thereafter, and her 85 in the second string of standing event pulled her down to the fifth position eventually. She had 563 in the preliminary stage and totalled 657.0.

At the Melville range, Jaspal Rana shot a brilliant last series to grab the gold from the hands of Linda Ryan of Australia in the standard pistol event. Jaspal had slipped after the fifth series when he shot an 89, that saw the Australian lady take a five- point lead in the open event.

Jaspal shot rounds of 47 and 48 with his last 10 shots while the Aussie could muster only 44 and 42. Jaspal had rounds of 95, 95, 97, 97, 89 and 95. Naresh Kumar took the bronze with a 562 as he had a series of 95, 98, 89, 98, 89, 93 while Vivek Singh had to settle for the fourth slot with a 560, with rounds of 95, 97, 95, 91, 91 and 91.

There was a golden chance for India in the rapid fire pistol event, but a below par first series of the 10-shot final saw Poonam Kumar concede a decisive three-point advantage to the Commonwealth Games Champion Metodi Igorov of Canada.

Both Poonam and Igorov had made the final with scores of 574, and the lead that the Canadian took after the first series clinched the issue in his favour. Poonam had a 97 and 96 in the eight- second series, 94 and 99 in the six-second series and 95 and 93 in the four-second series. The Canadian had pulled hard with a 95 in the last series to be on par.

In the final, Poonam had a string of 8.8, 8.7, 9.8, 9.1, 10.0, 9.4, 10.0, 7.5, 9.2, 10.0 while the Canadian managed four 10s in the first series of five shots.

Igorov took the gold with a 670.0, while Poonam finished 3.5 points behind for the silver. Mukesh Kumar took the bronze as he followed a 569 with a 91.3 in the final. After the miserable experience of Wednesday, when medals had slipped away like wet soap, because of poor last shots, it was encouraging for India that the regular flow was restored.

The 16-year-old Ronak had managed only a 561 in the preliminary phase, with rounds of 99, 94, 92, 92, 95, 89 and thus his 97.3 in the final could only fetch him the fourth slot, two points behind Mukesh. The talented son of the seasoned shooter Ashok Pandit, Ronak would be richer with the experience, that should stand him in good stead in future competitions. There was nothing much to write home about from the skeet range. Arti Singh finished sixth with rounds of 19, 22, 21 apart from a 20 in the women's final. For one looking to get ready for the World Cup finals in October, it was a chastening experience for the 22-year-old Delhi girl, especially after her fine effort in the Lonato World Cup when she had finished fourth, a point ahead of the Olympic champion. But then, Arti knows how much she has to catch up with her form, to keep pace with the rest of the pack.

Meanwhile, after three rounds in the men's event, Saravdeep Singh Mann was 13th with 70 and Harinder Singh Bedi was 14th with the same total. Mann had rounds of 24, 22 and 24 while Bedi managed a 23, 24 and 23. Hari Simran Singh Sandhu had rounds of 23, 21, 23 for a 67 that placed him at 19.

With Mike Thomson of Scotland and Paul Wilson of New Zealand at the top with 74, followed closely by a host of others, the Indian marksmen have a tough challenge to make the final on the morrow. After Harinder Bedi's golden badge winning effort, and Mansher Singh's gold in trap, it will be difficult to write away the Indian shotgun marksmen. Not yet.

India was sitting pretty on top of the medals table with a tally of 12 gold, four silver and seven bronze, looking forward to a golden finish, perhaps through Jaspal Rana in the centrefire pistol event.

The results:

Men's 25m rapid fire pistol: 1. Metodi Igorov (Can) 670.0 (574); 2. Poonam Kumar 666.5 (574); 3. Mukesh Kumar 660.3 (569); 4. Ronak Pandit 658.3 (561).

Men's Standard pistol: 1. Jaspal Rana 568, 2. Linda Ryan (Aus) 564, 3. Naresh Kumar 562, 4. Vivek Singh 560.

Women's Sport rifle 3-position: 1. Anjali Vedpathak 676.2 (NMR, old 670.8) 582 (NMR, old 573); 2. Susan McCready (Aus) 670.6 (575); 3. Kuheli Gangulee 665.0 (573); 4. Anuja Tere 663.8 (568).

Women's Skeet: 1. Sofia Miaouli (Cyp) 96, 2. Elena Little (Eng) 95, 3. Natalia Rahman (Aus) 94, 6. Arti Singh 82.

Women: Air pistol: 1. Linda Ryan (Aus) 479.0; 2. Shilpi Singh 475.2; 3. Annemarie Forder (Aus) 473.4; 4. Sonia Rana 466.5; 6. Shweta Chaudhary 463.7.