Asian Games 2018: Shooter Rahi Sarnobat steps out of shadows to win gold as India take medal tally to 15
For years, Rahi Sarnobat has been lurking in the penumbra, however, on Wednesday, the 27-year-old claimed center stage by becoming the first Indian woman shooter ever to claim an Asian Games gold medal.
For years, Rahi Sarnobat had been lurking in the penumbra, making it to the team but rarely making her presence felt. She would always be recognised as a pairs gold medallist at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in 2010 and the gold medal winner in Glasgow 2014, but each mention would lay stress on the Commonwealth Games where the competition is not considered of great quality.
However, on Wednesday, the 27-year-old claimed center stage by becoming the first Indian female shooter to claim an Asian Games gold medal. She won the 25m pistol event in a see-saw duel that ended in a shoot-off with Thailand’s Naphaswan Yangpaiboon. Her Games record score of 34 in the final decisively ended the whispers that accompanied mention of her biggest achievements till now.
The excitement in the final stages gave the Indian fans little time to mull over 16-year-old Manu Bhaker’s meltdown in the final. She searched desperately for the form that she had enjoyed while scoring a Games Record score of 593 points in the qualifying round. The 10s that the 16-year-old found, especially in the three series in the rapid stage, were just not coming her way.
India won four bronze medals in the Sanda discipline in Wushu. Roshibina Devi (women's 60kg), Santosh Kumar (men's 56kg), Surya Bhanu Pratap (men's 60kg), Narender Grewal (men's 65kg) took India’s collection of medals after four days to 15.
The coaches believed that 17-year-old Roshibina Devi had won her first round of the semifinals against China’s Cai Ying Ying but in a sport with subjective scoring, she had to up her game and turn the tables. However, the teenager from Manipur allowed that decision to rankle her so much that a comeback was well-nigh impossible
Talking of irreversible slides at crucial moments, Anjum Mudgil faced that in women’s 50m rifle 3-positions losing out on a place in the final after a horror run in the standing series. She had scored 392 and 394 in kneeling and prone, finishing with a 100 and a 99 to be able to take confidence into the standing series. But she managed a poor 373 and finished ninth.
There was good news from the compound archery women and men’s teams. They were in good form and earned themselves rankings that helped them avoid the redoubtable Koreans till the final round, giving themselves the chance of picking up three team medals.
Vennam Jyoti Surekha was the second best woman archer on view at the GBK Archery Field with a score of 705, one point below that of the Games' Record-setting Chen Yi Hsuan (Chinese Taipei). The 17-year-old Muskan Kirar was ninth with 691 and Madhumita Kumar shot 689. In the men’s ranking round, Abhishek Verma scored 704 to end fourth behind two Koreans and a Malaysian.
The Indian camp expressed confidence that it would be in contention for gold medals. Its awareness that it has to shoot consistently and not worry as much about what the others in the draw are doing, is acute. It believes that if it does not make mistakes, it can give the formidable Korean team a contest worth remembering.
The men’s hockey team rustled up a record 26-0 win over a hapless Hong Kong. The goalkeepers, PR Sreejesh in the first half and Krishan Bahadur Pathak in the second half, did not have much work to do besides keeping themselves busy egging their teammates on. The reserve umpire was a busy man, with the Indians not using the rolling substitutions at all.
Knowing chief coach Harendra Singh, he would not be very happy that the team was able to convert just nine of the 21 penalty corners and made capital of just 17 of the 39 opportunities. Of course, the match was a romp in the park.
Ankita Raina assured herself a medal in the women’s tennis singles by entering the semifinals. She later teamed up with Rohan Bopanna to win through to the mixed doubles quarterfinals. Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan also guaranteed themselves of a medal by making it to the men’s doubles semifinals.
They won in tie-breaker in the third set against Chinese Taipei’s Hsieh Cheng Peng and Yang Tsung-Hua 6-3, 5-7 [10-1] while Ramkumar Ramanathan and Sumit Nagal lost to the Kazakh pair of Aleksandr Bublik and Denis Yevseyev 7-5, 6-4, [10-2] in the quarterfinals. Prajnesh Gunneswaran will take on Korea’s Kwon Soon Woo in men’s singles quarterfinals.
India has chances on winning a number of medals on Thursday, notably in rowing where Indians figure in five finals. The men and women double trap shooters, especially Shreyasi Singh, will all be hoping to keep the flow of medals going. After all, the last two gold medals have come from the shooting ranges in Palembang.
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