Rio, Aug 29: In what could be termed as a perfect start to India's National Sports Day, young Elavenil Valarivan won her maiden gold medal in the women's 10m Air Rifle event even as fancied teammates Anjum Moudgil and Apurvi Chandela finished out of medal bracket at the ISSF World Cup Rifle/Pistol Stage in Rio.
In her debut year at the senior level, Elavenil shot 251.7 in the finals to help India extend their newly found dominance in the event leaving behind Seonaid Mcintosh of Britain, who won silver with an effort of 250.6.
Elavenil is a protege of veteran India shooter Gagan Narang who will be conferred with the Khel Protsahan Puruskar at the Rashtrapati Bhawan later in the day for his contribution towards sports. The 36-year-old shooter will be receiving the honour for his Gagan Narang Sports Promotion Foundation (GNSPF).
A huge congratulations to @elavalarivan for her 1st medal in Sr. category— Gun For Glory (@Gun_for_Glory) August 28, 2019
The medal came on a day when Gagan Narang Sports Promotion Foundation is awarded wth #RashtriyaKhelProtsahanPuruskar fr it's work in identifying & nurturing talent
Congrats @gaGunNarang @Pawanjsingh & team https://t.co/NJEmkaCsCu
India has now won three out of the four World Cup gold medals in the women's 10m Air this year.
Chinese Taipei's Ying-Shin Lin won bronze as well as one of the two Tokyo 2020 quota places on offer. The second quota was won by Iran.
Gujarat's Elavenil had earlier pipped her senior Anjum in qualification, with an impressive 629.4 to the world No 2's 629.1 as they took the fourth and fifth spots through to the eight-woman final.
World number one and finals world record holder Apurvi failed to qualify for the finals, finishing 11th with a score of 627.7.
In fact, such has been India's supremacy in the event that Mehuli Ghosh, shooting in the non-competition Minimum Qualification Score (MQS) section, shot a 629.1, which could have earned her a final spot as well.
Anjum led the finals field after the first five shots as Seonaid began as she finished and the eight finalists bunched closely at the top.
The Briton then attempted to pull ahead after 10 shots as Anjum had a poor second series to go down to fifth by the 12th shot.
However, Elavenil who was shooting brilliantly went ahead of Seonaid, as the American Mary Tucker became first to be eliminated in 8th place after the 12th.
The Korean Kim, then went out in seventh after the 14th shot at which stage there were three athletes, including Elavenil and Seonaid, who were jointly in the lead with a score of 147.1. Anjum maintained her fourth place at that stage.
Anjum finished fifth losing to Romania's Laura-Georgeta Coman. The Indian shot a 10.1 to Coman's 10.4 to go out in fifth.
Meanwhile Elavenil was dishing out a master-class with a series of high 10s, which saw her maintain a 1.4 in the lead with four shots of the 24-shot final to go.
Seonaid and Elavenil battled till the end, but it was the Indian who prevailed for a milestone win. After her feat Elavenil said, "I am really thrilled with this achievement and want to thank my mentor Gagan sir, my coach Neha ma'am & my mental trainer Kirtika ma'am who have trained me so well and without their correct guidance, this would not have been possible.
"I am happy and this win will give me great confidence going ahead into other national and international competitions," added the youngster, who trains under Project Leap and is supported by OGQ.
Mentor Gagan Narang was equally proud saying "such performances were the real rewards", adding that Elavenil made it "doubly special" as Gun For Glory celebrated the twin success.
"Elavenil has made a beautiful transition from the junior level to the senior. We have worked very closely on her all these years and her success marks a special day for all of us at Gun For Glory. She is a smart shooter and has the capability to perform consistently," said Gagan on his protege.
In the Women's 25m Pistol, Annu Raj Singh, making a comeback to the India squad shot a solid 292 in the precision stage to set herself in 12th spot ahead of the Rapid Fire round on Thursday, preceding the final. Compatriot Chinky Yadav shot 290 to lie in 17th place while Abhidnya Ashok Patil shot 286 to be further back in 43rd spot.
In the men's 50m Rifle 3 Positions competition, there was a qualification world record in the first elimination round itself as Austria's Jan Lochbihler shot 1188 to set the new mark.
India's Sanjeev Rajput shot 1170 in the first elimination round to sail through with a 14th spot finish. He will now shoot the qualifying round on Thursday for a shot in the finals.
So will Parul Kumar who finished 10th in his elimination round with a score of 1169. Chain Singh shot 1163 in the same round as Sanjeev to end in 27th position.
Thursday has as many as three finals on the schedule beginning with the men's 50m Rifle 3 Positions, followed by the women's 25m Pistol and the men's 10m Air Pistol being the concluding final of the day.
(With PTI inputs)