Shooter Heena qualifies for Rio Olympics

New Delhi, Jan 27 (IANS) Joint world record holder Heena Sidhu won gold in the women’s 10m Air Pistol event on the opening day of the Asian qualifiers at the Karni Singh Shooting Range here on Wednesday to book a ticket to the Rio Olympics.

Given the expectations and pressures of performing in front of her home crowd, Heena’s was a clinical performance and she topped her qualifying round as well with a creditable score of 387.

In the finals, she finished with 199.4 to beat Chinese Tapiei’s Tien Chia Chen (198.1) who took the silver. Yun Mi Gim of South Korea got the bronze. The second Olympic quota went to Iran’s Golnoush Sebghatollahi who finished fourth. But the fact that both Chinese Taipei and Korea had exhausted their quotas in the event worked to her advantage.

What made Heena’s performance even better was the fact that this was her third international gold in five months. The former world number one had won the same event at the 8th Asian Air Gun Championships here in September.

In the eight woman final, once Iran’s Elham Harijani and Singapore’s Xiu Hong Teh were eliminated, it became clear that one of the two quotas in the event would go to India. But Heena did not let that affect her and performed consistently to end up as the winner.

In the men’s 50m Rifle Prone final, South Korea’s 2012 London Olympics silver medallist Jonghyun Kim clinched the gold and a Rio berth with a score of 206.3. He had qualified in second position with a score of 625.1. The second quota in the event went to Attapon Vea Aree of Thailand who took home the silver with a score of 206.1 after qualifying in fourth position with a score of 623.4.

Swapnil Kusale was the best finisher among three Indians in the event, scoring 617.2 to finish 14th. Sushil Ghalay finished 17th while Surendra Singh Rathod was 24th.

Japan’s Yukie Nakayama, who already had a Rio quota, won the women’s Trap, beating China’s Qingnian Li in a scintillating shoot-off in the gold medal match up. Both women were tied with 12 points after the regulation 15 shots, with the Chinese girl eventually missing her 17th shot to hand Yukie the gold.

Qingnian however, took the only available quota along with the silver. Fang Cheng of China beat Sarah Alhawal of Kuwait to the bronze. India’s Shreyasi Singh missed out on the finals after losing a shoot-off with three other women, two of whom would have made the finals.

In the two other events of the day, India’s Vijay Kumar was lying seventh after stage one of the men’s Rapid Fire Pistol event with a score of 285. Neeraj Kumar shot 279 to lie 13th and Harpreet Singh logged a score of 278 to be at the 16th position. The second stage and the finals of the event are scheduled for Thursday.

Eita Mori of Japan was leading the first stage with a score of 289, while Sergey Vokhmyanin of Kazakhstan lay second with a score of 288. Yong Hoo Choi of Korea (287) was third.

In the first stage of the men’s Trap event, India’s quota hope Manavjit Singh Sandhu had an ordinary day by his standards, shooting 23 and 22 out of a possible 50 to lie in the 26th position. However, there are 75 more shots to go and four quotas up for grabs in the event, so he can be expected to catch up on the second day.

Prithviraj Tondaiman of India though was in a creditable second spot shooting scores of 24 and 25 to end one behind Maxim Kolomoyets of Kazakhstan who did not miss any of his 50 shots. Dhaher Alaryani of the UAE was third with 49.

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