Swapnil Kusale wins India’s third Paris 2024 Olympics quota place in shooting

Swapnil Kusale won India’s third Paris 2024 Olympics quota place in shooting after he came fourth in the men’s 50m rifle 3 positions (3P) event on Day 10 of the ISSF World Championship rifle/pistol at the Egypt International Olympic City (EIOC) Shooting Range, here on Saturday.

Rhythm Sangwan missed a quota place narrowly in the women’s 25m pistol as India also picked up two more medals on the day with a 1-2 finish in the 10m air pistol mixed team junior competition.

India’s tally from the rifle/pistol World Championship now stands at 32 medals, including 12 gold, eight silver and 12 bronze medals and they remain firmly in second place behind China in the standings. They have also now won two Paris quotas at the event, with Rudrankksh Patil picking up the first in the men’s 10m air rifle, earlier in the championship.

India’s first Paris quota in shooting was won by Bhowneesh Mendiratta in the men’s trap event at the Shotgun World Championship in Osijek, Croatia, which preceded the rifle/pistol worlds.

In the men’s 3P, after all, three Indians had safely negotiated the elimination round on Friday, it was qualification early morning on Day 10 and just like in elimination, Swapnil was easily the best Indian on show. He shot a sublime 593 to finish overall second in the strong 70-man field, behind China’s Yukun Liu who blasted a 596.

Aishwary Pratap Singh Tomar was 14th with a 589 and Niraj Kumar finished in 19th place with a score of 588.

In the ranking round, Swapnil was up against the likes of 2018 world champion Tomasz Bartnik of Poland, double Olympic silver medallist Jonghyun Kim of Korea and Rio Olympic silver medallist Serhiy Kulish of Ukraine besides former junior world champion Liu, among others.

He began well, shooting 104.6 in the first kneeling position to take a 1.1-point lead going into the prone position. However, a 9.8 for his first prone shot saw him go down to fourth and by the end of the 10 prone shots, he recovered somewhat to be placed third.

The Indian continued his ascendency in the final standing position and after 35-shots with competitors from Korea, Germany, Poland and China bowing out, India’s quota place was secured.

In fact, given that bronze-winning Norwegian Jon-Hermann Hegg already had a quota from the European Championships earlier, fifth-finishing Liu also secured a quota for his nation.

Shooting for a place in the gold medal round, Swapnil shot a big 10.6 for the 39th shot to bring him up to second, but an inexplicable 8.2 for his 40th, relegated him to fourth place and denied him a world championship medal. Kulish won gold and Bartnik won silver in the event.

Among the medal winners, Sagar Dangi and Shikha Narwal pulled off a pillar-to-post victory in the 10m air pistol mixed team junior after topping the 27-team qualification with a combined score of 580 out of a possible 600.

Sagar was particularly good with a score of 295 for his 30 shots. Fellow Indians Esha Singh and Samrat Rana followed them into the gold medal clash with a score of 579. Both Indian pairs fought tooth and nail in the title-decider but Sagar and Shikha eventually prevailed 17-15. Germany and China won the bronze in the event.

After shooting 295 to top the precision round of the women’s 25m pistol on Friday, Rhythm Sangwan shot a 292 in the rapid-fire round for a score of 587, which gave her third spot in qualification. Manu Bhaker missed out on logging 583 for a 10th-place finish.

Reigning Olympic champion Anna Korakaki came up with a perfect 100 in her final rapid-fire series to claim the eighth and final qualifying position with the same score as Manu and German Monika Karsch, who took the ninth spot in the 89-strong field. Abhidnya Ashok Patil, the third Indian in the field, shot 580 to end in the 19th spot.

In the first ranking match, however, Rhythm missed all her five targets in the fourth series to finish third with 11 hits and the German Doreen Veenekamp and Korean Jangmi Kim made it to the medal match with 14 hits each.

In the second-ranking match, Bulgarian Antoaneta Kostadinova (Tokyo silver medallist) and Yan Chen of China made it through to the medal match with 16 and 13 hits respectively out of 20. Haniyeh Rostamiyan of Iran was third with 11 hits and Korakaki was fourth with 11 as well.

The Iranian claimed the Paris quota over Rhythm, given she had finished second in qualification to Rhythm’s third. Doreen and Anna already had secured their quota places earlier so the remaining three quotas went to Bulgaria, China and Korea.

In other results of the day, the women’s 3P team competition saw the Indian troika of Anjum Moudgil, Sift Kaur Samra and Ashi Chouksey finish seventh with a score of 868 in qualification stage two.

In stage one, they had shot a combined 1310 to finish seventh among 22-teams to make it to the top eight. Also, in the men’s 25m rapid-fire pistol, India’s Vijayveer Sidhu shot 294 in the first precision round to lie in third place with the second rapid-fire round coming up on Sunday, followed by the finals.

Vijay Kumar shot 288 to be in the 28th spot while Anish was further back in 54th with a score of 281. The last four Olympic quota places of the World Championship would be distributed in this event.

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