A confident Indian 10m air rifle team led by teenage world champion Rudrankksh Patil gave the country its first gold medal at the Asian Games, securing the top place in the podium with a world record score here on Monday.
The trio of Rudrankksh, Olympian Divyansh Singh Panwar and Aishwary Pratap Singh Tomar aggregated 1893.7 in the qualification round to beat back the challenge of the shooting powerhouse China and South Korea on way to gold.
In one of the most dominating displays seen by Indian air rifle shooters in multi-discipline events, the 19-year-old Rudrankksh shot a superb 632.5, Tomar 631.6 and Panwar 629.6 to aggregate the world record score as South Korean was pushed to second spot (1890.1), while the Chinese team was a distant third with an aggregate score of 1888.2.
Rudrankksh and Aishwary also made it to the eight-shooter finals in the event and would be gunning for more glory after the qualification round.
In 10m air rifle shooting team event, the aggregate of the qualification scores decide the medallists, while the eight top shooters in the preliminary round move into the finals for individual glory.
While all three Indian marksmen shot amazing scores, Divyansh would be extremely disappointed to miss the finals berth due to an Asian Games rule where only two marksmen from a particular country can make it to the finals.
Rudrankksh entered the finals placed third, while Aishwary was fifth after the qualification round. Divyansh was placed eighth and, had it been a World Cup or a World Championship, or any other continental shooting competition, all three Indians would have been in the eight-shooter final.
However, Divyansh had to make way for Kazakhsran's Islam Satpayev, who was placed ninth but still qualified for the finals because of the rule.
Sheng Lihao of China topped the qualification round with a score of 634.5, a qualification Asian Games record, while South Korea's Park Hajun was second at 632.8.
Rudrankksh, at 632.5 was third entering the finals, while Aishwary was fifth at 631.6 among the list of qualifiers.
The Indian trio was just unbeatable on way to team gold with Rudrankksh, true to his form, shooting superb series of 104.8, 106.1, 103.8, 105.5 106.7 and 105.6. Aishwary had a series of 104.1, 105.5, 105.3, 105.7, 105.7 and 105.3 in qualification.
Divyansh, who represented the country at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, shot a series of 104.8, 104.3, 104.6, 104.7, 106.3 and 104.9.
With the kind of scores the Indians shot, it left other competitors just doing catch-up for the team gold.
Rudrankksh's father, Balasahab Patil, told PTI following his son's exploits, "My son was determined to give his best at the Games. He has great confidence in his abilities and before leaving for Hangzhou, Rudrankksh said he would aim to bring the first gold for the country.
"He had ironed out all the minor issues in his shooting before leaving for Hangzhou. He trained extremely hard in these last two months." Rudrankksh was not included in the ISSF World Championship-bound squad to Baku by the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) as the federation wanted to maximise the country's chances of bagging more Paris Olympic quota places for the country by sending other marksmen.
Rudrankksh has already clinched an Olympic quota place for the country by virtue of winning the World Championships gold in Cairo last year.
In fact, while the World Championships were on in Baku last month, he shot way better that the gold-medal winner in the Azerbaijan capital in simulated conditions created for him at the Karni Singh Ranges in Delhi.
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