Chandigarh teen Vijayveer strikes silver

Vinayak Padmadeo
Today News Online Service
New Delhi, March 26

Vijayveer Sidhu had just missed out on winning the gold medal in the 25m Rapid Fire pistol competition. After having registered a solitary hit — scores of 9.7 or above are ‘hits’ — the 18-year-old saw Estonia’s Peeter Olesk register four hits. The gold was gone and with it, perhaps, a chance to earn India their 16th Olympics quota — gold for an Indian could have pushed the winner high in rankings and in contention with the World Ranking Quota scheme.

Rather than a show of disappointment, the Chandigarh shooter was applauding the Estonian’s feat. This was Vijayveer’s first appearance in a World Cup final. “I only focus on what I get or achieve,” Sidhu said. “I am not disappointed about missing out on a gold medal. I am happy for this experience as I am only starting now and have a long way to go.”

After having qualified sixth for the final, Vijayveer was the only one from the Indian team to score hits on a consistent basis. Gurpreet Singh, who out-qualified his teammates with 581, was the first to be eliminated after scoring nine hits. Anish Bhanwala went out next with 13 hits.

Vijayveer, meanwhile, maintained his position in the top two places throughout the final. He registered four hits in the last two series and with Olesk dropping a hit in his last, the final went into a shoot-off decider after both finished with 26 hits.

The gold was decided when the youngster registered only one hit, while the Estonian registered four.

Inspired by Gagan

Vijayveer, who broke into the junior team in 2018, disclosed that he was inspired to pick up the sport after watching Gagan Narang win a bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics.

“I was very young when I saw Gagan sir win a medal and that got me interested in shooting,” the 2018 junior world champion in Standard Pistol said. “Initially I tried the rifle discipline but when I started shooting pistols, it sat well with me. I broke into the junior team in 2018 and I have been learning ever since.”

The biggest high for him was to soak up the experience. “I was lucky to experience many things today. This was my first ever final, I won a medal and was involved in a shoot-off. I had to adjust between low light of the 25m range to bright lights of the final hall. So overall it was a good experience for me,” he said.

Kynan fourth

While Vijayveer’s silver medal delighted the home crowd, there were disappointments on the trap ranges. Kynan Chenai, who needed to win a gold to earn the World Ranking quota, finished fourth in the final. Kynan also broke his trigger mid-way through the final. The 30-year-old tried to recover lost ground but was eliminated fourth after breaking down 27 clay targets. Italy’s Daniele Resca won gold with 46 hits.

In women’s trap, all the three Indians — Shreyasi Singh, Manisha Keer and Rajeshwari Kumari — failed to qualify for the final.

The day started with India winning two gold medals in non-Olympics events. Tokyo quota holders Sanjeev Rajput and Tejaswini Sawant saw off Ukraine’s Sehriy Kulish and Anna Ilina to win the 50m Rifle 3 Positions mixed team gold.

The Indian men’s team of Chain Singh, Swapnil Kusale and Niraj Kumar bagged the 3P team gold after beating USA 47-25 in the final.

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