Jitu Rai gives India first gold

Rai Jitu of India reacts after the men's 50m Pistol finals of shooting event at the 17th Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea
Rai Jitu of India reacts after the men’s 50m Pistol finals of shooting event at the 17th Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea

World No.5 Jitu Rai Saturday emerged champion in the men’s 50 metre pistol event to give India its first gold medal from the 17th Asian Games at the Ongnyeon International Shooting Range here.

It was India’s second medal of the day from the shooting ranges. Shweta Chaudhry had won the bronze, the first medal for India from Incheon, in the 10m air pistol event earlier in the day.

Rai, who won the World Championship silver medal earlier this month to book the Olympic berth, shot a total of 186.2 in what was a rollercoaster final round. He had fired 559 in the qualification round to finish seventh and make the cut for the finals.

The silver medal went to Vietnam’s Hoang Phuong Nguyen with a final score of 183.4 while China’s Wang Zhiwei settled for the bronze with a tally of 165.6.

It was a tough field in the final that saw three-time Olympic champion Jin Jongoh of South Korea finishing seventh with a score of 92.1. Expectations were high from Jin, who shattered a 34-year-old world record enroute to his World Championship gold earlier this month in Granada, Spain. But the South Korean, who topped the qualification round, disappointed and was the second to be eliminated in the finals.

For the Indian Army shooter, 2014 Commonwealth Games gold medallist, it was a bumpy ride to the gold medal. Starting at seventh place in the final round, he jumped to fourth and again dropped to sixth before making a tremendous recovery to clinch the gold medal.

Going into the final shot, Rai opened up a slim lead of 0.2 points over Nguyen. In the final shot, Nguyen failed to hold his nerve and shot a poor 5.8 and Rai ran away with the gold shooting 8.4.

Among other Indians in fray, Om Prakash and Omkar Singh failed to qualify for the final round finishing 10th and 16th respectively. Om shot 555 while Omkar had a score of 551.

The Indian team comprising, Rai, Om and Omkar, finished fourth and missed the team bronze by five points. The team gold was won by Chinese trio Pang Wei, Pu Qifeng and Zhiwei with a total score of 1,692.

The silver went to the South Korean team comprising Jin, Lee Daemyung and Choi Youngrae with a total score of 1,670. Both South Korea and Vietnam were tied on 1,670 but the hosts got the silver on account of their better x. The Koreans shot 31x while Vietnam had 25x. The Vietnam team comprised Hoang Xuan Vinh, Nguyen Hoang Phuong and Tran Quoc Cuong.