Shooter Rahi Sarnobat rewrites history books

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 23 Aug 2018 08:12:41



The Kolhapur Deputy Collector becomes first Indian female shooter to win Asiad gold Mah Govt announces Rs 50 lakh reward

RAHI Sarnobat became the first Indian female shooter to win a gold medal at the Asian Games, achieving the rare feat by holding her nerve in a gripping 25m air pistol final which was decided by two shoot-offs, here. The 27-year-old Deputy Collector from Kolhapur pipped Thailand’s Naphaswan Yangpaiboon in a heart-stopping contest after both were tied at 34 points in 10 series of five shots each, taking it to a shoot-off.

Both found the target four times in the first shoot-off, leading to another where Rahi shot three and the Thai managed two, ensuring a historic gold for the Indian. The bronze went to South Korea’s Kim Minjung. Rahi was in the lead for major part of the final and her first 10 shots were on target. She got a five out five even in sixth series.

With her stellar effort, Rahi became the second gold medallist from the Indian shooting contingent after 16-year-old Saurabh Chaudhary fetched top honours in the 10m air pistol finals on Tuesday. She is also the sixth Indian to shoot a gold at the Games, joining Chaudhary, Jaspal Rana, Randhir Singh, Jitu Rai and Ronjan Sodhi. Her 34 in the finals also ended up as a joint Games Record.

The Maharashtra government immediately announced a cash award of Rs 50 lakh for Rahi. “I am happy to announce that Maharashtra Government will give Rs 50 lakh to the gold medal winners, Rs 30 lakh to silver medal winners and Rs 20 lakh to bronze medal winners of Asian Games 2018 from Maharashtra,” Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis tweeted.

The talented Manu Bhaker, however, cracked under pressure to finish sixth in the finals. The 16-year-old had a remarkable morning as she shot 593 to equal the Games qualification record. Rahi had sneaked into the finals in seventh place, shooting 580.

Rahi, who had become India’s first pistol shooter to win a World Cup gold back in 2013, had not won a major medal since the Commonwealth Games gold in 2014. An elbow injury which she picked up even before Glasgow set her back for the next two years. Realising that she needed a tweak in her technique, Rahi roped in Munkhbayar Dorjsuren, two-time world champion and Olympic medallist from Germany.

“I had to change her technique and I also worked on her a lot on the mental aspect of the game. She was already a high-level shooter and needed some tweak in her game. It was a close final but I had prepared her for the shoot-off,” Dorjsuren, who moved to Germany from Mongolia, told PTI. The Mongolian-German coach also knows the legendary Gabriele Buhlmann well. Buhlmann had coached Abhinav Bindra to India’s only individual Olympic gold medal in 2008.

Rahi is also double gold medallist at the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games and had a bronze in the 25m pistol pairs event at the 2014 Incheon Asian Games. Bhaker, however, could not recreate the form she showed in the qualification. The 16-year-old is now left with her main event, 10m pistol, having disappointed in the mixed team event with Abhishek Verma earlier. “She will get there. You need years of experience to win Olympic medals and gold medals at the highest level. She needs time. She was brilliant in the qualification. Now she needs to learn how to perform in high-pressure scenarios,” said Bhaker’s coach and four-time Asiad gold medallist, Jaspal Rana.