Gold fingers: Rifle shooters come to the fore at Asiad

India's 10m air rifle team wins gold with world record mark, Aishwary Tomar claims individual bronze.

CHENNAI:  The men's air rifle 10m is a legacy event in an Indian context. At Beijing in 2008, Abhinav Bindra became the country's first individual Olympic gold medallist. Four years later, Gagan Narang won bronze. In 2021 though, that halo was punctured. The output didn't match the hype and no Indian advanced to the final. In Hangzhou — roughly 1300 kms north of Beijing — India once again showed the possibilities in this category. In the morning, the discipline gave the country their first gold of the Games. Approximately two hours later, Aishwary Pratap Singh Tomar prevailed in a battle of wits to earn himself a bronze. Divyansh Singh Panwar and Rudrankksh Patil, who finished fourth in the final, were the other members of the team. For Tomar, the second Indian to win multiple medals at this year's Asiad, this will go some way in getting that belief system back in place after a less-than-ideal 18 months or so. He may only be 22 but he's already a relative veteran. He came into Hangzhou on the back of some less-than-ideal experiences. It included failing to win a quota place for the country in the men's 50m 3P, his bread and butter (he will be in action in this event later on at Hangzhou), at the Baku World Championships in August. Sensing there was a need to talk to her ward after that disappointment, chief coach, Suma Shirur, invited Tomar to have a one-on-one conversation during dinner. "It was extremely disappointing for him," Shirur told this Daily from Hangzhou on Monday. "It was probably one of the lows of his career that he had to get over. From that context, this (team gold with a world record and individual bronze) was good. He redeemed himself, somewhere he wanted to prove himself. He's a great competitor. "I called him for that dinner saying 'we need to have a talk'. One match doesn't make you a bad shooter. It's important that you regroup yourself for the Asian Games." Considering Shirur has seen Tomar develop from an early age, she knew what her ward needed then and it paid off at the Fuyang Yinhu Sports Centre. It kind of helped that the Asian Games so closely followed the Worlds so Tomar knew he had the chance to 'redeem himself'. In the qualifying stage on Monday, the 22-year-old, who has a whole raft of senior and junior medals in his locker, had a slightly iffy first series of 104.1. That's when he put the pedal to the metal and reeled off five successive series with scores of over 105 or over to finish fifth. While Sheng Lihao and Park Hajun had left the others to build a sizable advantage, Tomar had the unenviable task of beating compatriot Patil mere hours after breaking the world record and claiming gold in the team event. That battle went Tomar's way by mere millimeters. After the first 16 shots in the final, Tomar was on the outside looking in, his 166.8 was sandwiched by Patil's 166.9 and Nyantai Bayaraa's 166.7. A 10.5 and a 10.7 followed by his rifle (Patil shot a 10.4 and a 10.1) and Bayaraa was eliminated. Just like on Sunday, two Indians were left scrapping for one podium place unless Lihao and Park faded pretty badly. They didn't. Unlike Sunday, Tomar and Patil were left facing a dead heat. 208.7 each after 20 shots. A shoot-off to decide who would finish fourth. While the latter hit a 10.5, Tomar's 10.8 was near perfect. 'Environment very positive' Shirur, who was earlier the junior coach, hailed the 'positive environment'. ""Everyone is delighted, very satisfied with the world record," she said. "Last night (Sunday) everyone was in their zones. Most important thing is the environment, there is a lot of belief in the shooters. The training plan has been designed for them. There has been no place for negativity in the camp, it's all thanks to the team culture that we have built."     It's not always been like that, especially in the immediate aftermath of the Tokyo post-mortem. Shirur was candid enough to admit that 'it has been difficult for a few shooters post Tokyo'. 'It's a slow process, little bit of a struggle but there has been little bits of positive talk and that contributed to the environment being very positive now and it's very infectious. This has been a team effort." With more medals in the range up for grabs in the next few days, Shirur and the rest support staff will be hoping for more.  

Disclaimer : Mytimesnow (MTN) lets you explore worldwide viral news just by analyzing social media trends. Tap read more at source for full news. The inclusion of any links does not necessarily imply any endorsement of the views expressed within them.