Shooting at his best over two days, India’s Arjun Babuta won his maiden ISSF World Cup stage gold, beating Tokyo Olympics silver medallist Lucas Kozeniesky of the USA 17-9 in the gold-medal match on Monday morning.
Arjun had qualified second to make it to the top-eight ranking round on Sunday, along with compatriot Paarth Makhija who had qualified in fifth place. The Chandigarh lad carried on his good form on Monday, topping the ranking round with a scintillating 261.1 to storm into the gold-medal encounter.
Kozeniesky shot 260.4 to join him even as qualification leader Sergey Richter of Israel settled for bronze with a score of 259.9. Paarth had to be happy with fourth place with 258.1.
There was no stopping Arjun in the final as well as he raced to a 10-4 lead after the first seven single-shot series. The winner of each series gets two points while the points are spilt in case of a tie and the first to 16 wins the match.
The American did not give up till then end but Arjun pulled out those big high 10s when it mattered most and finished clinically in the end for a convincing 17-9 score-line to help India open their account with the brightest medal possible.
This was also national foreign rifle coach Thomas Farnik’s first medal on his very first international assignment. The Austrian had been appointed to the job just ahead of the Changwon ISSF World Cup.
India have fielded a 32-strong squad in the Changwon World Cup which has more than 430 athletes from 44 nations competing. The World Cup ends on July 21 with 30 gold medals on the roster.