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Raj Kumari Rathore wins gold

Kamesh Srinivasan

— PHOTO: SANDEEP SAXENA

AIMING RIGHT: Raj Kumari Rathore of

NEW DELHI: Raj Kumari Rathore of Madhya Pradesh won the women's rifle prone gold ahead of World champion Tejaswini Sawant in the 54th National shooting championship at the Dr. Karni Singh Range, Tughlakabad, on Friday.

It was a welcome return to form for the 28-year-old Raj Kumari, as she clinched her maiden national gold in the event, with a score of 592. Crediting her husband and family for the huge support and daughter Sansruti, just over a year in age, for letting her train with diligence, Raj Kumari said she could have compiled a better score, but for seven of her shots being 9.9.

Raj Kumari pipped Meena Kumari by one point, while Tejaswini Sawant had to be content with the bronze at 589, following a sequence of 99, 98, 99, 99, 97 and 97.

Having a World record 597 against her name, achieved in the World championship in Munich last year, Tejaswini said that her score was marred by minor technical mistakes.

Tejaswini had lost the gold to her mentor Kuheli Gangulee in the last National championship in Jalandhar, when both had shot 591.

She said the focus would now shift to faring better in the 3-position and air rifle events.

On her part, Kuheli Gangulee could muster only 585, while the seasoned Anjali Bhagwat, returning to the National championship with minimal training, after child birth, shot a score of 580.

Another Olympian of considerable experience, Deepali Deshpande missed the bronze by two points at 587.

After starting with a 96, she followed with rounds of 98, 99, 97, 98 and 99. Olympic and World champion Abhinav Bindra, given the pride of place with a bib of No. 1, shot 592 in air rifle, following a sequence of 100, 100, 99, 96, 98 and 99. Hardeep Singh followed Bindra with 591, and Rakesh Manpat was on 590 while Asian champion P.T. Raghunath could muster only 589.

Double World record holder Gagan Narang was scheduled to shoot in the last detail on Saturday, as there were as many as 355 entries for the event, distributed over six details.

Four-time Asian Games gold medallist Jaspal Rana shot 285 out of 300 at the halfway stage in rapid fire pistol, following a series of 97, 97 and 91. His good work was undone by a below par fare in the 4-second series, but it could be anybody's game on Saturday, when the second half of the competition would be followed by the final for the top six.

Rapid fire specialist Vijay Kumar, who had strayed to winning bronze medals in centre fire pistol and air pistol in the recent Asian Games in Guangzhou, led with 289 following a sequence of 96, 97 and 96.

The results: Women: Rifle prone: 1. Raj Kumari Rathore 592; 2. Meena Kumari 591; 3. Tejaswini Sawant 589. Team: 1. Maharashtra 1750; 2. Army 1743; 3. Railways 1733. Juniors: 1. Rekha Chalichemala 586; 2. Amrita Roy 582; 3. Ruchira Arun Lawand 577. Team: 1. Madhya Pradesh 1706; 2. NCC 1700; 3. Punjab 1679 .

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