Asian Games: Sift Kaur wins gold with world record as shooters make India’s day; Vishnu Saravanan wins bronze in sailing

Hangzhou: Indian shooters Sift Kaur Samra, Manini Kaushik and Ashi Chouksey pose for photos during the presentation ceremony of women’s 50m rifle 3 positions team event at the 19th Asian Games, in Hangzhou, China, Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023.(Photo: IANS/Seshadri Sukumar)

Hangzhou, Sep 27 (IANS) Led by a sensational performance by rifle shooter Sift Kaur Samra in the Women’s 50m Rifle 3-positions, who set a world record in the Individual event, Indian shooters banged in seven medals as India took its medal tally to 22 medals including five gold medals on a Wonderful Wednesday at the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou.

India won eight medals in all on Wednesday, seven in shooting and one in sailing — a bronze by Vishnu Sarvananan in the Men’s Dinghy – ILCA7 at the sailing venue in Far away Ningbo. 

At the end of the day, India is in seventh position in the medals tally with 5 gold, seven silver and 10 bronze medals. China was marching ahead towards the 100 gold mark as they have already amassed 76 gold, 43 silver and 21 bronze for a total of 140 medals. The Republic of Korea is second with exactly half of that count — 70 medals including 19 gold, 18 silver and 33 bronze medals.

The day belonged to the shooters, particularly Sift Kaur, who was absolutely brilliant as she became the first-ever Indian rifle shooter to win a gold medal since the sport made its debut at the 1954 Asian Games in Manila. 

The 22-year-old MBBS student from Faridkot in Punjab qualified for the final in the second position, took the lead soon and never looked back as she shot superb scores to set a new World Record of 469.6 points. India also bagged the silver medal in the Women’s 50m Rifle 3-positions as Ashi Chouksey finished third in the Individual event.

Earlier, Sift and Ashi had combined with Manini Kaushik to win a silver medal in the Team combination finishing behind China. 

The women pistol shooters bagged India’s second gold on Wednesday in the 25m Pistol event as Rhythm Sangwan, Manu Bhaker and Esha Singh scored 1759, finishing ahead of China, who had a score of 1756 with Korea taking the bronze medal with a score of 1742.

Esha then came back to the range to bag a silver in the Individual competition while Manu Bhaker was left disappointed as she finished fifth after topping the qualifying stage with superb shooting in precision and rapid sections.

Shotgun shooter Anant Jeet Singh Naruka also bagged two medals on Wednesday — a historic silver medal in the Men’s Skeet Individual competition and a bronze in the Men’s Skeet Team event with Angad Vir Singh Bajwa and Gurjoat Singh Khangura. 

It was the first time since the 1974 edition in Tehran when India won medals in the skeet competition at the Asian Games. Anant Jeet Singh was brilliant in the Individual competition as he matched the legendary Abdullah Al-Rashidi of Kuwait, a three-time World Champion, two-time bronze medallist in Olympics and two-time gold medallist at the Asian Games, shot for shot till 42 targes before he missed two in the next two series and eventually finished with a score of 58 out of 60.

Al-Rashidi shot a perfect 60 out of 60 to equal the World Record set by India’s Angar Vir Singh Bajwa.

India could have bagged one more medal in sailing but nature conspired against Nethra Kumanan as there was no wind on Wednesday and races had to be abandoned. Kumanan was placed fourth after the penultimate race and that’s how things ended for her.

The lack of wind also prevented India’s Vishnu Saravanan from going for gold in the Men’s Dinghy – ILCA7 class. Vishnu Saravanan had jumped into medal contention with second place in the 10th race and first spot in the 11th race. He could have gone for gold on Wednesday but had to be satisfied with bronze in the end.

India was also assured of a medal in the Wushu competitions as Roshibina Devi Naorem reached the final in Women’s Sando 60kg, beating Vietnam’s Thi Thu Thuy Nguyen 2-0 in the semifinals.

However, there were disappointments for India in the boxing ring as experienced Shiva Thaka, 67kg, and Sanjeet (92kg) lost their bouts. The spirits were lifted a bit later in the evening with two-time World Champion Nikhat Zareen cruising into the women’s 50kg quarterfinals with a dominating victory over South Korea’s Chorong Bak in the Round of 16 clash.

On the tennis courts at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre, India had a disappointing day with Sumit Nagal and Ankita Raina crashing out, ending India’s campaign in the men’s and women’s singles. Nagal lost to China’s Zhang Zhizhen 7-6(3), 1-6, 2-6 while Ankita lost to Japan’s Kaji Naruka in three sets, going down 6-3, 4-6, 4-6 in a hard-fought encounter.

The men’s doubles pair of Saket Myneni and Ramkumar Ramanathan defeated China’s Zhizhen Zhang and Wu Yibing 6-1, 7-6 (8) in one hour and 22 minutes on the Centre Court. The mixed doubles pair of Rutuja Bhosale and Rohan Bopanna, seeded second, were also in the hunt, reaching the pre-quarters with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Japan’s Ayano Shimizu and Shinji Hazawa, the 13th seeds. 

India encountered disappointment at the chess and esports venues, missing out on medals. In chess, India could not win a single medal in the men’s and women’s individual despite the presence of players like Vidit Gujarathi and Koneru Humpy appearing for them.

In esports, the Indian campaign in the League of Legends section ended in the quarterfinals.

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