CHENNAI: UP against the cream of the crop, shooter Rudrankksh B Patil more than held his own on Friday. Taking part in the ongoing ISSF World Championships in Cairo, the 18-year-old produced plenty of spark to become a world champion in the men's 10 air rifle event, earning an Olympic quota for India in the process. This is a mammoth effort given that he emulated a legend in the process (Abhinav Bindra is the only other Indian to have climbed the top of the podium in the event in 2006).
Rudrankksh displayed plenty of poise on the day, especially during the gold medal match. After acing the qualification round (he finished No 1), he did just enough to enter the gold medal match. Battling with Danilo Dennis Sollazzo for the top prize, Rudrankksh was off to a slow start. In a tense face-off, his Italian opponent was hitting high 10s and had a handy lead. Despite the top prize slipping away from him, the youngster from Maharashtra didn't lose his calm and continued to persist.
Just when it seemed that the Italian was coasting to victory, Rudrankksh, after a quick chat with his coach, completely changed the narrative. Danilo shot 10.7 (a score that's considered to be almost unbeatable), Rudrankksh responded with a 10.8. The Italian and his coaching unit must have wondered how. That defining moment also helped him be on level terms with the Italian. He followed it up with another 10.7 to Italian's 10.4. Then a 10.5 was enough for him to complete the turnaround.
He raised his arms after an exhausting battle and everyone who followed the fascinating contest cheered along. Back home in India, his coach Ajit Patil was a delighted man. "I'm thrilled. What he has achieved has come after plenty of hard work out here," he said.
Ajit, who has been training Rudrankksh since 2016, threw light on what his ward had done to get this massive result. "He's very determined. Until and unless he doesn't achieve what he wants, he won't rest. He'll be saying he wants to do this, he wants to do that. He has to ensure that he reaches his targets. Also, he's quite hard-working and has plenty of interest in the game," he said.
According to the coach, another notable quality of Rudrankksh is his level-headedness. The coach said that Rudrankksh is taking a sensible approach with the Paris Olympics in mind. "He has a calm demeanour. If he wins something, he won't get overexcited. He's grounded. His main target is to win a medal at the Olympics. With that big goal in mind, he has been trying to give his 100 per cent in every competition."
National Games winner
The Mumbai boy had entered the event having won a gold medal during the National Games last month. Ajit said that Rudrankksh always likes to challenge himself and raise the bar. "We prepared for the National Games like we would for the World Championships. He did really well there. In every competition, we're always looking to compete against ourselves, always looking to get better and better. That's the main thought process."
In the same venue earlier this year, the Indian had finished 11th during the Cairo World Cup. Following that performance, he had bagged a gold medal during the ISSF Junior World Cup in Suhl, Germany. Then he came within range to compete for a medal in the Baku World Cup in May-June before losing out in the ranking match.
In his nascent career, he has had quite a rise. Silver medal during the 2021 junior World Championships and now a gold in the senior event. With his undoubted talent and willingness to work hard, this medal return could be the start of something special for the youngster.