ISSF World Cup: Akhil Sheoran's gold ensures India top place finish for the first time
Akhil Sheoran’s Gold earlier in the day meant that India remained on top of the medals standings with four Gold, one Silver and four Bronze medals for a total of nine medals. China are second with two Gold, two Silver and one Bronze medal. With one more medal event, the Men's Skeet, scheduled for Sunday, the last day of competitions, India look set to return as first-time winners of an ISSF World Cup stage.
Sunday will see the last of the medals being decided in the Men’s Skeet and perhaps another shot by India at a medal, with Smit Singh placed at seventh after the first two rounds of qualification with a score of 48 out of 50. Sheeraz Sheikh has 45 and is in 30th spot while Angad Sir Singh Bajwa is in 48th position with a score of 42. Three more rounds of qualification will take place on Sunday before the top six qualify for the finals.
Manu Bhaker of India ended her run at the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup Rifle/Pistol/Shotgun stage in Guadalajara, Mexico, with her third final appearance in as many events, eventually settling for fifth place in the Women’s 25m Pistol on Saturday, to go with her two Golds in the Women’s 10m Pistol and the 10m Pistol Mixed Team event.
On day eight of competitions, Manu qualified for the Women's 25m Pistol final with a score of 581, which gave her fifth spot. The top eight women in the qualifying round make it to the finals. Annu Raj Singh, the second Indian in the mix, shot 575 to finish 10th. It was a top field as usual in the final with both the reigning Olympic Champion in the event, Anna Korakaki of Greece and Rio Bronze medalist Heidi Gerber of Switzerland qualifying in third and sixth spots respectively.
In the final, Korakaki was fastest off the blocks with Lamolle Mathilde of France, both scoring four hits out of five after the first series of shots. It was still very closely grouped after the second series but China’s Yan Chen and Korakaki were looking to pull ahead after the third series with 11 hits out of 15 each. Manu was down to fifth with 8 but pulled up to third after the fourth series with 10 out of 20 hits. Manu got four out of five in the fifth series to claim second spot after 25 shots with 15 hits.
China’s Chen was still in the lead with 17. After the sixth series, Manu found herself in a shoot-off with the German shooter Skeries and French shooter Mathilde. Skeries then bowed out in sixth as both Manu and Mathilde got three hits to Skeries’ one. Manu had to settle for fifth place finally as her 19 hits at the end of the seventh series of five shots was three behind the leaders and two behind the German Doreen Vennekamp who had 21 at that stage.
But it was no stopping the Olympic Champion on the day as she began the final 10th series two ahead of Vennekamp after Mathilde had settled for Bronze with 24 hits in the final. Anna got four out five to end with 29 hits out of 50 to win an emotional first ISSF World Cup Gold in the event. Vennekamp got Silver with 27. In the Women’s Skeet, Rashmee Rathore was the best Indian finisher, scoring 105 out of 125 in qualification for 19th place. Maheshwari Chauhan was 22nd with 103 while Saniya Sheikh was 23rd with 101.