Paris qualifiers: Sandeep stuns men's 10m air rifle field; Ramita shakes the order in women - Hindustan Times
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Paris qualifiers: Sandeep stuns men's 10m air rifle field; Ramita shakes the order in women

ByRutvick Mehta
May 18, 2024 10:08 PM IST

In women's 10m air pistol, Manu Bhaker, who topped the Olympic qualifiers in 25m pistol, and Rhythm Sangwan maintained their top spots

Sandeep Singh came into shooting's Olympic selection trials with a nothing-to-lose attitude. Participating in these trials only on the basis of his national ranking, the rifle shooter had precious little international experience and exposure. He has, however, managed to cause quite a stir in the men's 10m air rifle field comprising some more accomplished names.

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

On the back of a terrific first two rounds in New Delhi where he shot 634.4 and 632.6 as the runaway leader, the shooter from Faridkot, Punjab continues to top the five-man field despite more modest third (631.6, third) and fourth (628.3, fourth) rounds in Bhopal. With quota holder Arjun Babuta catching up for the second spot, it has left world champion Rudrankksh Patil— and Divyansh Singh Panwar — outside the top two finish that NRAI has set as the benchmark at these trials for Paris Olympics spots across events.

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The federation's selection committee will take a final call at a meeting post the trials, and Sandeep admitted he will be a touch nervous until then. Should the unheralded Sandeep keep his spot at the expense of world No.1 Rudrankksh — he had scores of 630.5,

628.7, 632.0 and 630.6 in the qualification rounds — it will be quite an upset from these trials.

"I had no goals coming here that I want to go to the Olympics. My only focus here was to notch up good sequences (of scores). There was no pressure at all," Sandeep said on Saturday.

Having joined the Army in 2014, Sandeep began shooting in 2016 after initially being interested in distance running. He was named among the reserves for the Tokyo Games in 2021, while a two-year doping suspension from 2019 halted his shooting for that period.

He got back to the ranges towards the end of 2022, and participated in one World Cup in Rio last year. At this year's Asian Championships in Jakarta, he finished ninth.

“People tell me I’m a different shooter and person now than before. I have become a lot more patient and calm," Sandeep said.

Ramita sizzles

In the women's 10m air rifle, there was a major shake up in the order after Ramita Jindal shot a trials-turning 636.4 (a world record score that though will not be counted as one) in the fourth qualification round on Saturday. It propelled the shooter to second

spot, behind Tokyo Olympian Elavenil Valarivan, and displaced quota winner Tilottama Sen from her top two position ahead of the final on Sunday (with decimal points on offer).

Teenager Tilottama, who was in a seemingly comfortable position to go through after the third round, sat teary-eyed with her parents moments after the completion of Saturday's round. Nancy, who too had a solid couple of rounds in New Delhi, also broke down with her Paris hopes going up in smoke.

The 10m air pistol events witnessed no such drama. Manu Bhaker, who also finished on top in 25m pistol, and Rhythm Sangwan maintained their top spots in the women's field, while Sarabjot Singh and Arjun Singh Cheema held that position among the men.

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