Young gun Ramita captures bronze at Asian Games

Indian shooter claims individual bronze in women's 10m air rifle event of ongoing Asian Games after securing silver in the team event.

Published: 25th September 2023 12:30 AM  |   Last Updated: 25th September 2023 12:30 AM   |  A+A-

Asian Games (Photo | Express)

Asian Games (Photo | Express)

Express News Service

CHENNAI: Even among precision sports, shooting is unique. The margins are so small a gap of 0.1 can be the difference between agony and ecstasy, elimination or progress. At the Fuyang Yinhu Sports Centre on Sunday, Ramita and Mehuli Ghosh went head-to-head to decide the penultimate elimination in a tense women's 10m air rifle final.

Up till that point, Ramita was exchanging positions at the top of the standing with the Chinese pace-setters — Huang Yuting and Han Jiayu. After 15 shots in the final, Ramita had left Mehuli in the rearview mirror. She had split the two Chinese and had burned Han, World No 1 in the discipline, with five successive scores of 10.5 (the highest possible is 10.9) or more. It was a clinic in precision shooting and she was just 0.1 off Huang. Mehuli, who had earned India an Olympic quota in this event last month, had come into the final as one of the favourites to medal. Twenty minutes later, the senior shooter was trailing her junior of three years.

Everything changed in the 16th shot of the final. While Huang (10.8), Han (10.6) and Mehuli (10.6), found the zone, Ramita's (9.9) first display of nerves meant she had gone from 0.1 off joint-top to tied for third. Her 17th shot (10) wasn't much better. Meanwhile, Mehuli showed her class with a 10.8 and a 10.6 to hunt Ramita down. The digital scoreboard read Ramita 187.5, Mehuli 187.3. Two shots remained for the next elimination and with both Chinese in no real danger, the pressure was amped up.

That's when Ramita, who now trains at the Gun for Glory Academy, rediscovered the pincode needed to thrive in an environment like a shooting range. 10.7 and a 10.4 meant she had left Mehuli in her wake to assure herself of a second Asian Games medal less than four hours into the first day of competition. Earlier, the duo and Ashi Chouksey had won India's first medal at Hangzhou — a silver in the team event.

Ramita, an accounts student, almost dethroned Han with a series of 10.7 and 10.4 but fell 0.3 behind. Nevertheless, her 230.1 earned her a fine bronze. She conceded that it was an experience for her. "There were shoot-offs and one shot is going to decide what happens next. It was nerve-wracking and very close and it was an experience for me," said Ramita. "The level of competition is very high and we all know Asian Games is not easy for Indian shooters. It has to be world-class level. The final was so close and the difference (among shooters) were so little. It's my first individual senior medal so I'm very happy."

The disappointment was writ large on Mehuli's face and she didn't hide when speaking about her fourth place finish. "I'm feeling disappointed but we all learn and gain experiences. I will go through my entire match and write down in my diary about the experiences, things which I learned today. I think this will definitely help me in preparing for the Paris Olympics. I will definitely work more on my finals performances. It was not my best performance today."

'Part of Mehuli's journey'

One person who knows all about finishing fourth is Joydeep Karmakar, who finished fourth at the London Olympics. Having worked closely with the 22-year-old when he was with the Indian team, he knows Mehuli better than most. "Definitely heart-breaking but there's time for Mehuli," he told this daily. "She's just getting back her groove. She's on track, her qualification score shows that. A few shots cost her a lot but she will learn.

There will be heart-breaks, winning moments, losing moments but you learn a lot from those moments. I would insist that she takes both failures and successes in her stride. This is just part of her journey. Mind you, she did win a silver today (Sunday) and she can still win another medal as she's part of the mixed team." On Ramita, Karmakar said: "I know her very well even though I haven't worked with her technically. She's a very cool customer and has lots of resilience. She's very casual but knows her business. She loves fun but is also amazingly talented."

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