Patil shoots gold at World Cup, secures quota in Paris

India’s Rudrankksh Balasaheb Patil shot gold in the 10m air rifle event at the World Championships in Cairo on Friday, beating a quality field with a clinical display of shooting. The result has also secured India’s second quota for the 2024 Paris Olympics, after kicker Bhowneesh Mendiratta won the first at the World Shotgun Championships in Osijek, Croatia.

Patil defeated Italian teenager Danilo Sollazzo 17-13 in the thrilling final that ebbs and flows with every shot. The world championship gold is Patil’s first senior medal; the youngster has been in scorching form on the junior circuit for the past year, after winning silver at the World Junior Championships in Lima last year and gold at the ISSF Junior Cup in Suhl in May.

Patil made the senior squad at the beginning of this year, finishing seventh and eleventh in the Baku and Cairo World Cups. The 18-year-old is now only the second Indian air rifle shooter after Beijing Olympic gold medalist Abhinav Bindra to win the World Championships, ending a 16-year wait for the title.

“Winning gold at the World Championships is an ultimate achievement in an athlete’s career, even more so in a sport like shooting where these competitions also have quotas for the Olympics,” Bindra said.

Patil started strong, shooting an excellent 633.9 to top the qualifiers, leaving behind Olympic and two-time World Champion Yang Haoran of China, reigning Olympic Champion William Shaner of the US and Tokyo silver medalist Lihao Sheng of China. Teammate Kiran Jadhav also made it to the eight-man final, while Arjun Babuta managed only 22nd place.

“It feels great. The magnitude of this medal still dawns on me,” Patil said from Cairo.

“To be honest, I was in a daze for five minutes after the game was over. Then the realization hit. I trusted the process without thinking too much about the result, and the result took care of itself,” he added. ready.

Patil had a slow start to the 25-shot rankings – which are five series of five hits each – moving up to fourth with a score of 104.2 after the first two series. He shot the lead after the third lap, registering 157 to be 0.1 ahead of second-seeded Sollazzo.

Patil held the lead in the next heat before the 19-year-old Italian defeated him in the final relay. The duo advanced to the gold medal match, while China’s Lihao took the bronze.

Fight to finish

The race-to-16 format awards two points to the winner of each shot. A tie means the points are split and the first to 16 points wins.

The final was an intense affair, with Patil and Sollazzo sharing points three times. The Italian took an early lead with 8-4, 10-6 and 13-9.

“I was a little stressed at the time. He shot really well and ran away with the game,” said Patil. “At that stage I just tried to stay calm and follow all the technical processes as best I could. I stuck to my game and kept believing. Maybe good karma helped me,” he joked.

Patil’s backlash started when he was 9-13 down. After narrowing the gap to 11-13, he shot 10.8 to Sollazzo’s 10.7 to tie the score. From then on, Patil never gave up any advantage and shot two high-quality scores – 10.7 and 10.5 – under pressure. Sollazzo could only come up with 10.4 and 10.2, so that the world title went to the Indian.

“The pressure was too much to handle, but somehow I kept my composure when it mattered and produced the result we wanted. Reaching the quota was always on my mind, although I haven’t reached it yet the Olympics think step by step,” Patil said.

Gunbait Bindra praised Patil lavishly. “His performance was absolutely spectacular, although this didn’t come as a complete surprise. I know he trained with Heinz Reinkemeier, who was also my coach, and Heinz told me exceptional things about him. All in all, this was an absolutely fantastic achievement,” said the 40-year-old.

“I spoke to this boy a few months ago and he was very interested in the little things. I was very impressed with his attention to detail and determination. His desire to become a holistic athlete, given his age, I found, very impressive. All in all, it’s a great day for Indian shooting,” Bindra added.

Patil will be in action in the team event on Saturday along with Babuta and Jadhav.

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