Craving out a niche: gold medallist Anish creates history
(Eds: updating with additional details and quotes)
Brisbane, Apr 13 (PTI) Anish Bhanwala, a boy aged 15, trumped, in style, the men on his way to becoming India's youngest ever gold medallist at the Commonwealth Games, the incredible talent making up for his lack of experience with skills, which hogged the limelight here today.
In a sensational CWG debut, Anish shot a Games record score of 30 to claim the top prize in the men's 25m rapid fire pistol event.
Anish entered the six-man finals having topped the second stage of qualification with a total score of 580 and 22 central bulls.
The youngest in the field, he showed nerves of steel and led the more experienced shooters through the event to emerge a deserving champion.
Australia's Sergei Evglevski claimed the silver with 28, while the bronze medal went to Sam Gowin (17) of England.
India's other entrant in the event, Neeraj Kumar (13) was the second shooter to be eliminated in the finals after a shoot-off.
By winning the gold, Anish bettered team-mate 16-year-old Manu Bhaker, who had become the youngest Indian Commonwealth Games gold medallist earlier this week when she emerged champion in the 10m air rifle finals.
Facing stiff competition from Australian shooter Evglevski, Anish held his nerve and kept his focus through eight rounds to emerge on top.
Anish started with two possible fives, racing to a three-point margin. He stumbled with a three and a one before scoring another five to lead by four points over Evglevski.
In the gold-medal round, with just a one-point margin, Anish, who won the silver at the Commonwealth Shooting Championships last November at Belmont, displayed his skill with a maximum of an unbeatable 30 points.
Evglevski shot a valiant four to claim his first Commonwealth medal and join his mother, 10-time Commonwealth medallist Lalita Yauhleuskaya in the history books.
In the Qualifications, Anish scored 580 to finish top of the tally while Neeraj was second best with 579. Anish scored 286 in stage 1 and 294 in stage 2 qualifying, while Neeraj had 291 in stage 1 and 288 in stage 2.
So talented is the shooter that the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), in an unprecedented first, had agreed to reschedule three papers of his class X exams to help him avoid a clash between studies and competitive sports.
Today's achievement was not lost on Anish.
On becoming the youngest athlete in the Indian team, he said, "I'm very excited that I became the Commonwealth champion. I am the youngest athlete from India to win Commonwealth gold at 15."
On his next competition and plans of celebration, "Next are the world championships (in South Korea) and Asian Games (Indonesia). I will celebrate with my coach."
The rising shooter recently won a gold medal at the ISSF Junior World Cup in Sydney where he finished atop the podium in the same event.
Last year, the teenager made heads turn when he won the 25m standard pistol gold with a world record score of 579 at the ISSF Junior World Championships, followed by silver in the 25m sport pistol at the same event and another silver at the Commonwealth Shooting Championships in Brisbane.
The same year, he also outperformed 2012 Olympic silver medallist Vijay Kumar to win gold medals at the Kumar Surendra Singh Memorial Championship and again at the 61st National Shooting Championship