New Delhi : Jitu Rai and Heena Sidhu combined to give India their first gold medal of the ISSF World Cup Final here, clinching the top honours in the 10m air pistol mixed team event on the opening day of competitions.
It was historic as the mixed team events have been officially granted medal status at an ISSF World Cup Final. In the 10m mixed air rifle event, the duo of Deepak Kumar and Meghana Sajjanar had to be contend with a fourth-place finish at the Dr Karni Singh Shooting Ranges. The Indian pair, which suffered a two-shot penalty for shooting in the wrong sequence, would have probably landed a medal otherwise.
The duo of Jitu and Heena shot 483.4 in the final to finish on the top of the podium. The mixed team competitions were organised as test events in the World Cups held earlier this year and will be making the Olympic debut in the Tokyo 2020 Games. Despite starting off with a 2.5-point disadvantage from the lead after the first series of five shots, Sidhu and Rai gradually closed the gap on their opponents to give the host nation a positive start in the prestigious tournament that is being organised for the first time in the country.
France’s Florian Fouquet and Celine Goberville bagged the silver medal with 481.1. The bronze medal was awarded to Yang Wei and Cai Xiaoxue of China, who failed to match the pace set by India and France, finishing third with 418.2 points. A multiple medallist in top international events, Rai will also gun for glory in the 10m free pistol and 50m pistol in the coming days.
This was the Indian pair’s third gold in the event this year, having won both the test events (Grand Prix status) at two earlier World Cup stages 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 2013. For Jitu, this was his second medal at the WCF level, having won silver last year in the individual men’s 50m pistol event.