India won their fourth gold medal of the ongoing ISSF World Cup Rifle/Pistol in Cairo, Egypt, when young Aishwary Pratap Singh Tomar, outplayed Austria's Alexander Schmirl 16-6 in the men's 50m rifle 3 positions (3P) gold medal match, at the Egypt International Olympic City Shooting range.
It was the Indian's third individual world cup gold and consolidated his country's position at the top of the medal tally. India now has four golds and two bronze medals, with Hungary in second with two golds and a silver.
Speaking after the match Aishwary said, "I had not performed well twice earlier at this range so this time I was determined to go back with a medal." On asking what was his mindset after a slow start in the ranking round, Aishwary said, "It did not affect me much. As I said I was very determined and was confident that I could always come back in my favourite Standing position and that's what happened."
Aishwary first topped the qualification round with a score of 588 after 20-shots each in the Kneeling, Prone and Standing positions. He had teammate Akhil Sheoran for company in the ranking round, who was second in qualification with 587.
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The Indian duo began slow in the ranking round with Aishwary sixth and Akhil eighth after the first five Kneeling position shots. After the end of the allocated 10-shots in the second Prone position however, both had made a move up with Akhil in second and Aishwary up to fifth. All the while the Austrian Schmirl was leading the match and did so till the end of the ranking round.
It changed dramatically after the first five Standing position shots, as now India number one Aishwary got up to second, just 0.5 behind Schmirl who was still leading. Akhil was down to fifth and eventually bowed out in seventh place after 30-shots. Eventually after 40-shots both the Austrian and the Indian held on to the top-two positions to setup a gold medal clash.
In the gold medal match, which is basically a race to 16 points with two points being awarded to the winner of each single-shot series, Aishwary took the first series. However as is mostly the case with big finals, it remained tight with match scores reading 4-4 and then 6-6 before the Indian broke away with some sensational shooting to close out the match without giving the Austrian another chance. A time-out taken by the Austrian at 6-12, did nothing to break Aishwary's momentum.
In the day's first medal event, India's Rhythm Sangwan, who had qualified for the ranking rounds after shooting a total of 589 in the women's 25m pistol, could not make the final four medal round. She had shot 295 to lead the first precision round on Tuesday and then shot 294 in the rapid-fire round to qualify second behind Doreen Vennekamp of Germany.
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She then bowed out in the second ranking round match finishing fourth with nine hits out of 20. Hungary's Veronika Major won gold in the event.
Manu Bhaker and Esha Singh, the two other Indian contenders shot 571 and 570 to finish 32nd and 34th respectively. Two other Indians, Niveditha Nair and Abhidnya Ashok Patil, playing for ranking points only, shot scores of 583 and 582 respectively.