It was their first individual Senior World Cup medals for both Hazarika Fridayformer junior world champion from Assam, and Haryana’s Nancy.
The Assam sniper shot brilliantly in the final, where his lowest score of 10.1 came in the first-ever 24-shot contest.
Nancy was even better, recording a low of 10.2 in her final.
However, both came across more accurate shooters on the day. Hriday lost to Hungarian Zalan Pekler who shot 252.4 to the Indian’s 251.9, while Nancy, after starting the final two shots with a 0.1 lead over China’s Han Jiayu, failed to could not keep the cushion to finish with 253.3 against 254.0 for his opponents.
Both the men’s and women’s finals were high quality, with China’s Sheng Lihao scoring 9.9 on his 21st shot, the only score in the nine by the six medalists in the two finals.
The latest results left China and India locked in a battle for supremacy with two more days left. China led the medal tally with two golds, one silver and two bronzes while India has one gold, two silvers and one bronze.
Men’s 10m Air Rifle
Hriday was the first to accept after the game that Hungarian Zalan Pekler was just too good ‘on D-Day’.
The Hungarian who is in the form of his life, after winning the 10m air rifle gold medal at the previous World Cup stop in Lima last month, sizzled from the qualification she -even, surpassing the world record for shooting 636.2 for a second-place finish.
Chinese bronze medalist and Tokyo Olympics silver medalist Sheng Lihao, who topped qualifying with a sizzling 637.9, broke his own world record set in Bhopal in March.
Hriday qualified seventh with 630.3.
When asked if he expected this performance at the start of the day, Hriday replied: “Not really. I had no expectations as such. I just wanted to do my best and shoot according to the plan. I’m happy that I was able to execute well today.”
It was a power-packed final with Chinese air rifle legend Yang Haoran, former world champion and Tokyo Olympic gold medalist, also lining up alongside fellow countryman Sheng, Hungarian ace Istvan Peni and veteran Austrian Martin Strempfl, among others.
However, the Indian didn’t hesitate once and put in a great performance with Zalan.
Hriday started with a 10.1 and was in second place after the first set of five shots, just 0.8 behind Zalan.
As others fell by the wayside, Zalan and Hriday held on until the 20th shot, when Sheng edged Hriday to second with a 10.9 on his 20th shot.
But as the Chinese faltered on 21, Hriday secured his top two but despite his best efforts couldn’t catch Zalan, eventually finishing just 0.5 behind.
The other two Indians in the fray, Rudrankksh Patil and Shahu Tushar Mane, shot scores of 628.8 and 628.1 to finish 19th and 23rd respectively.
Strong scores were also recorded by Divyansh Singh Panwar and Arjun Babuta who were only playing for ranking points. While the former recorded a 633.1, the latter finished with 630.6.
Women’s 10m Air Rifle
Nancy’s road to silver was slightly more difficult as she didn’t have as strong a start as Hriday in the final, although she also qualified seventh with a qualifying score of 631.6. Han Jiayu finished top with 634.3 while two other Indians, Ramita (631.4) and Tilottama Sen (629.7), finished ninth and 15th respectively despite shooting well.
“It was definitely the best performance of my career,” the Haryana teenager said after the game.
Nancy was fourth after the first set of five moves and by the time Jeannette became the first to be knocked out after the 12th move, the Indian had moved up to third place.
Then Nina started in seventh place and Nancy progressed to take second place with China’s Huang Yuting. By the end of the 16th she was a full point behind Han and by the time she confirmed her medal with a 10.8 for her 19th and a 10.7 for the 20th she was 0.6 behind the leader.
She continued her excellent run and two more shots of 10.8 and 10.7 meant she was 0.1 ahead of Han going into the final two shots. But Han shot 10.7 against the Indian’s 10.3 for the 23rd and with 0.3 to make up for in the final shot, Nancy shot a 10.2, her lowest score in the final, against 10.6 of Han to give the game to the Chinese.
(With PTI entries)