Young Ramita rises in 10m air rifle Olympic qualification race - Hindustan Times
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Young Ramita rises in 10m air rifle Olympic qualification race

ByRutvick Mehta
May 19, 2024 11:39 PM IST

The 20-year-old's brilliant late sequence helped snatch a top-two finish that assures a Paris Games spot

Amid Saturday's sombre scenes of young teary-eyed shooters and their parents at the waiting hall by the ranges here, one face stood out. Ramita Jindal walked around smiling while accepting congratulatory remarks.

Indian shooter Ramita Jindal( X Image)
Indian shooter Ramita Jindal( X Image)

About an hour earlier, ahead of the start of the fourth and final qualification round, Ramita sat behind her lane, dabbling with the Rubik's Cube. "I had to calm my mind, because there were so many thoughts going through," she would say later.

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Perhaps the farthest was a top two finish in the women's 10m air rifle trials for the Paris Olympics. Within a matter of minutes, however, it dawned into becoming a fortunes-fluctuating reality. An incredible qualification score of 636.4, strung together by a series of 106.1, 105.2, 106.0, 105.7, 106.4 and capped off by an exquisite 107.0, brought out claps, calculators and Ramita's Paris hopes in dramatic fashion.

Up until that final round, Ramita — she shot 631.1, 628.3 and 630.8 in the first three qualification rounds, and average scores of best three were considered — was below Tilottama Sen, Nancy and Elavenil Valarivan in the pecking order in the five-women field.

Even Ramita knew the task ahead of her, which knocked Tilottama and Nancy out of contention, bordered on the near-impossible. That's not to say the Asian Games bronze medallist was short on belief.

"After the third trials, I knew it was a little bit difficult for me to make it to the Olympics. I went with the mindset of just giving my best and staying in the present," Ramita, 20, said on Sunday after the final.

"At that time, I didn't want to think about the eventual outcome. I knew I had given my best for the last one-and-a-half years, and had been shooting well. I wanted to give it my best try. That way at least I would be satisfied that whatever I could I did till the very last shot."

The surreal 636.4, by far the best score of the trials in the women’s rifle event and Ramita's young career, left her exhausted. "I was a little bit surprised, because it was my first time shooting that score," she said.

Also elated were her parents who had accompanied the shooter from Kurukshetra. "We were extremely nervous ourselves before Saturday's round. Hats off to her for doing what she did in that situation," her father Arvind Jindal said.

Ramita, who trains with Tokyo Olympian Elavenil in Chennai's Sports Science Centre, is a 2022 junior World Championships gold medallist. Last year was about translating junior success into senior promise, with medals at the 2023 Asian Championships in Changwon (bronze) and the Asian Games in Hangzhou. The Asian Games, where she won an individual bronze and team silver alongside Paris quota winner Mehuli Ghosh and Ashi Chouksey, was an especially crucial experience and step up for Ramita.

The soft-spoken shooter, who found the month-long trials so stressful that she couldn’t eat a proper meal in the morning before her matches, though believes her tendency to not being able to “digest good scores” after a particular series is increasingly on the wane.

“For example, if I would shoot a good first series, I would go down in the next. Now I can sustain good series and keep a certain standard of scores going throughout,” she said.

An admirer of Tokyo Olympian Anjum Moudgil, Ramita too wishes to get into 50m rifle 3P in the near future. “In Tokyo, Anjum di competed in both 10m air rifle and 50m rifle 3P. I really liked that, and I too wish to do something like that,” she said.

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