CHENNAI: India’s rich haul of 15 medals at the recently-concluded 9th Asian Shooting Championship for rifle and pistol shooters in Tehran, Iran, saw a lot of positives. First was the fact that they finished second on the table, behind mighty China, and second was the fact that some new starts emerged, most notably Shahzar Rizvi and Ruchita Vinerkar.
The latter bagged gold in the men’s 10m air pistol event, ahead of seasoned countrymate Jitu Rai, while Ruchita won bronze in women’s 10m air pistol, adding to a superb overall tally of six gold, five silver and four bronze medals.
Ruchita may have finished behind China’s Mengshue Xang and Yuemei Lin in the eight-woman final, but she was in the lead for a while. “I was leading the Chinese duo midway through the final, but shooting is a game of such fine margins that even one bad shot can ruin your podium chances. And that’s what happened to me, one bad shot spoiled my day. Especially when you’re in the lead, making a mistake can prove costly, and I guess it’s part of the learning curve,” the 24-year-old told Express.
What made the tournament interesting was the fact that women competitors had to wear a hijab, as Iranian laws state that all women should wear it. Indian women’s air pistol shooter shooter Heena Sidhu had withdrawn from the event saying it would make participation difficult. But the Indians put in an inspired show, and Ruchita agrees.
“After the disappointment of the Rio Olympics, it was imperative that the Indian shooters gave a good account of themselves. And that’s what we did here, and this will hopefully lead to better showing in the future,” said the Mumbai girl, who trains at the Goregaon Sports Club under Raunak Pandit.
Having started shooting late, because of which she wasn’t also in the Rio qualifying fray, Ruchita is now targetting the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The bronze ion Iran will be a big confidence booster as well. “I started serious shooting only in 2012 under Raunak sir, and only a year later did I compete in my first World Cup. But now that I’ve won this bronze, which is my first international medal, I’m going to target a spot in Tokyo. The medal showed me that I can compete at the highest level, and the aim hereon will the next Summer Games.”