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Shooters Rai, Sidhu win gold at World Cup (Lead)

New Delhi, Oct 24 (IANS) Heena Sidhu and Jitu Rai gave the Indian campaign at the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup Final a golden start as they won the 10m air pistol mixed team event here on Tuesday.

Sidhu and Rai shot a total of 483.4 points in the five teams final. France took the silver with 481.1 points while the bronze went to China (418.2).

This was the Indian pair’s third gold in the event this year, after having won both the test events (Grand Prix status) at two earlier World Cup stages this year in New Delhi and Gabala.

This was also Heena’s second WCF gold medal. She had won the individual women’s 10m Air Pistol gold in the 2013 edition. This was also Jitu’s second medal at the WCF level. He had taken silver last year in the individual men’s 50m Pistol event.

In Tuesday’s final, each team had to shoot 30 shots before the bottom placed team began successively eliminating themselves after the 34th (17th individual shot) shot and subsequently after every four shots per team.

The Indian pair made a strong comeback as they were at the third spot after the first two series of five shots each. At that point, the French were at pole position followed by the Chinese.

But Heena and Rai picked up their game from the third series and steadily gained ground on their rivals.

A magnificent couple of 10.9s by Jitu on his 15th and 17th individual shots, meant that they held on to win gold easily. A 10.8 in his 21st individual shot was also crucial as Heena was a picture of consistency throughout the final.

Earlier, the Indians struggled at the start of the qualification rounds and took time to settle down before entering the final as table toppers with a total of 767 out of 800.

The qualification round comprised four series of 10 shots each, with each shot offering a maximum of 10 points.

France (766), China (764), Ukraine (761) and Chinese Taipei (760) were the others to qualify.

Sidhu started the qualification round with a series of 94/100. She scored 96, 95 and 97 in the next three series to register a total of 382 points.

Rai scored 97, 96, 95 and 97 for a total of 385 points.

In other events, China’s Song Buhan and Wu Mingyang won the mixed team 10M Air Rifle gold shooting 499.8 at the end of the 48 shot final.

The silver medal went to the Serbian pair of Milutin Stefanovic and Andrea Arsovic who shot a combined 496.8.

China’s Team 2 took the bronze as Sui Gengcheng and Shi Mengyao shot 430.3 to push the Indian pair of Deepak Kumar and Meghana Sajjanar to the fourth place.

The Indian pair who suffered a two-shot penalty for shooting in the wrong sequence would have probably landed a medal otherwise.

In the mixed team Trap, Spain’s Antonio Bailon and Beatrice Martinez won gold shooting 42 out of 50 in the final round.

Italy’s Giovanni Pellielo and Jessica Rossi had to be content with the silver. The Italian pair scored 40 while Americans Derrek Haldeman and Ashley Carroll got bronze with a final round score of 31.

This the first time the mixed team events are being held officially at an ISSF World Cup.

The mixed team events were organised as test events at the World Cups held earlier this year and are scheduled to be included for the first time at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

–IANS
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