2016 Rio De Janerio ISSF World Cup: Mairaj only shining light in a disappointing 12 days
There was hope when one read that a full strength Indian squad was to travel to Rio De Janerio to participate in the second World Cup of the year, which also was to serve as a test event for the Olympics in a few months time.
Instead what we saw a disappointing showing by our shooters, who, barring Mairaj Ahmad Khan, failed to raise their game.
The 10m Air Rifle event saw two stalwarts of Indian shooting- Abhinav Bindra and Gagan Narang- in action, but both couldn’t enter the final, with the former finishing 10th in qualifying while the latter a very disappointing 31st. Chain Singh, the third Indian in this category, finished 52nd.
Narang and Singh and also had a poor outing in the 50m Rifle Prone event, finishing 48th and 45th respectively in the qualification round. The Rifle 3 Position event also proved to be a damp squib as the two shooters finished 27th and 32nd in the qualification stage. Sanjeev Rajput, whose Olympic quota was exchanged with the Trap shooter Manavjit Sandhu last month, finished 30th.
It was a similar tale in the Women’s 10m Air Rifle as well, as neither of Apurvi Chandela, Ayonika Paul or Pooja Gahtkar managed to reach the final. Ghatkar finished the highest among the trio in qualification at 11th, while Paul and Chandela finished 13th and 20th respectively.
Pistol shooters also disappoint
It was a similar story in the Pistol category as well as barring Jitu Rai, none of them could lift their game on the big day. The 28-year-old, who won the Gold in the last World Cup that was held in Bangkok, was the sole Indian to enter the final in any of the categories among both Men and Women, but could only finish 6th , bowing out with a final score of 108.9.
He narrowly missed out on booking a spot in the final of his pet event, the 10m Air Pistol, finishing 9th in qualifying while Gurpreet Singh and Prakash Nanjappa finished 17th and 50th respectively.
Gurpreet also failed to deliver, finishing 19th in qualifying in the 25m Rapid Fire Pistol event. Heena Sidhu finished 24th in the Women’s 10m Air Pistol event and 42nd in 25m Pistol event.
The Shotgun events saw seasoned pro Manavjit Singh Sandhu begin well in the Trap event, before losing out the early fizz to eventually finish 23rd while Kynan Chenai finished 40th. Zoravar Singh Sandhu finished the highest of the lot at 19th.
On the final day of the final event of the competition, it was Mairaj Ahmad Khan who provided some late cheer, creating a piece of history by becoming the 1st ever Indian skeet shooter to win an World Cup medal, clinching the silver in a shoot-off late on Sunday night.
Overall, that effort proved to be a silver lining in what was a disappointing 12 days for India.