Baku (Azerbaijan), May 12
Former junior world champion Hriday Hazarika and Haryana’s Nancy won their first individual senior World Cup medals, shooting down silver in the men’s and women’s 10m air rifle competitions here today.
The Assamese marksman shot brilliantly in the final, where his lowest score of 10.1 came in the very first of the 24-shot contest. Nancy was even better, recording a lowest score of 10.2 in her final.
However, both went down to more accurate shooters on the day. Hriday lost to Hungary’s Zalan Pekler, who shot a 252.4 to the Indian’s 251.9, while Nancy, after going into the final two shots with a 0.1 lead over China’s Han Jiayu, could not hold on and finished with a 253.3 to the Chinese’s 254.0.
Both the men’s and women’s finals were of very high quality, with China’s Sheng Lihao recording 9.9 in his 21st shot, the only score in the nines by the six medallists across the two finals. The latest results left China and India locked in a battle for supremacy with two more days to go. China led the medal tally with two gold, one silver and two bronze, while India have one gold, two silver and one bronze.
Not just their day
Hriday was the first to accept after the match that Pekler was just too good “on the day”. The Hungarian is in the form of his life, having won gold in the 10m air rifle in the previous World Cup stage in Lima last month. He sizzled in the qualification today, going over the world record mark to shoot a 636.2 for a second-placed finish.
China’s bronze medallist Sheng Lihao, who topped the qualification with a sizzling 637.9, broke his own world record set in Bhopal in March. Hriday qualified seventh with a 630.3. Asked if he expected this performance at the start of the day, Hriday said: “Not really. I did not have any expectations as such. Just wanted to do my best and shoot according to the plan. I am happy that I was able to execute well today.”
Nancy’s route to silver was slightly tougher as she did not have as solid a start as Hriday in the final although she also qualified seventh with a score of 631.6 in the qualification. Han Jiayu topped with a 634.3 as the two other Indians — Ramita (631.4) and Tilottama Sen (629.7) — ended in the ninth and 15th positions, respectively.