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Indians take air pistol, rapid fire pistol pairs

Kamesh Srinivasan

Determined Ronjan Sodhi takes silver in double trap

— PHOTO: R.V. Moorthy

GOLDEN DUO:Gurpreet Singh (left), who shot his way to two gold medals on Thursday, snapped with his 25m rapid fire pistol pairs event teammate Vijay Kumar.

NEW DELHI: World record holder Ronjan Sodhi fought the odds to win the men’s double trap silver, even as the host continued to assert its shooting prowess in the Commonwealth Games, by clinching the pairs gold medals in air pistol and rapid fire pistol, on Thursday. India thus took its tally to seven gold and six silver medals at the Games.

Vijay Kumar shot a world class 587 to ensure the rapid fire pistol gold for the Indian team, and Omkar Singh was equally brilliant in air pistol in shooting a National record 587. Gurpreet Singh was on hand to lend support with scores of 575 and 576 respectively.

India won both the medals with record scores as it beat England by 20 points and Malaysia by 18 points in rapid fire and air pistol respectively.

It was the second gold for Omkar, apart from a silver, following the individual gold in free pistol, and he would be keen to grab the individual gold in air pistol on the morrow.

Precious picking

On a day when the team gold medals had looked so easy, it was a precious silver for Sodhi, who started fifth in the final, four points behind the leader and eventual gold medallist Stevan Walton of England. Sodhi overcame the tension of a tie-shoot to finish second.

After Walton had run away with the gold with 190, after having led the field with 143 in qualification, it was a three-way tie for silver between Ronjan, compatriot and World junior champion Asher Noria and Timothy James of Isle of Man.

The World Cup final gold medallist in Turkey recently, Ronjan was able to emphasise his class to clinch the silver with eight clean hits, leaving the other two to fight for the bronze. Asher missed the sixth bird in the second tie-break to lose a medal that he richly deserved. The experience would stand him in good stead.

“You can’t say anything in the tie-break. It was an interesting final. I was confident of my technique. I have been training a lot for the finals and was confident,” said Sodhi, who is supported by the Mittal Champions Trust and the NSDF scheme of the government.

Praise for Stevan

Sodhi was understandably proud about the strong finish when he shot 47 in the final despite missing two of the first four. He had also missed as many as five birds in one station in the qualification phase. He had rounds of 47, 48 and 44. Thrice he missed both the birds.

“After the silver in the team event, the gold was in my mind. Stevan shot very well,’’ conceded Sodhi.

Though it was the first time that Walton won the individual gold in the Games, it was not the first time that he was leading into the final. In 2006, Walton had led with 141 but had a miserable final when he shot 29, to finish sixth. “That was a big learning experience for me, to win gold today,” said the 25-year-old Walton.

Sodhi was all praise for the 17-year-old Asher Noria and commended his fine performance of 47 in the final and subsequently in the tie-shoot when he held his nerve so well, despite it being his first international competition in the men’s world.

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