India’s struggling rifle team finally got a breather as Swapnil Kusale and Anjum Moudgil won silvers in their respective individual 50m Rifle 3 Positions events at the 2022 ISSF World Cup held at Baku, Azerbaijan.
The World Cup which concluded yesterday saw participation only from India’s rifle squad; the shotgun and pistol teams were not sent.
Indian shooters have traditionally done better in the 10m Air Rifle discipline than in 50m Rifle but the roles were reversed at Baku. Both Swapnil and Anjum reached their respective gold medal matches amid fairly strong fields while the 10m AR squad could not do much barring a team gold in Women’s AR.
50m Rifle 3 Positions: A good haul for India
Men’s 50m Rifle 3P
Swapnil Kusale ensured the first individual World Cup medal of his career by reaching the gold medal match of the Men’s 50m Rifle 3 Positions event. Swapnil eventually lost 10-16 to Ukrainian Serhiy Kulish, the winner of the last World Cup Finals in this event and the Olympic 10m Air Rifle silver medalist in 2016. The bronze was won by Aleksi Leppa of Finland.
The field included Olympic medalist Milenko Sebic, World Champion Tomasz Bartnik and multiple-time World Cup medalist Istvan Peni.
The other Indians Goldi Gurjar and Deepak Kumar could not qualify for the ranking round.
Women’s 50m Rifle 3P
Anjum Moudgil made a comeback into the reckoning by winning a silver in the Women’s 50m Rifle 3 Positions event. Anjum lost 12-16 in the gold medal match to Norway’s Rikke Maeng Ibsen. Nonetheless this was Anjum’s first medal in this event since winning silver back at Guadalajara 2018. The medal should come as a confidence booster for Anjum who had been struggling with poor form since the past year.
Eunseo Lee of South Korea won bronze. The field included reigning Olympic champion Nina Christen and Olympic finalist Olivia Hofmann.
The other Indians Ayushi Podder and Ashi Chouksey could not qualify for the ranking round.
50m Rifle 3P Mixed Team
Swapnil won another medal, a gold this time, teaming up with Ashi Chouksey in the 50m Rifle 3P Mixed Team event. The Indians beat the Ukrainian duo of Serhiy Kulish and Daria Tykhova 16-12 in the gold medal match. Ashi had won bronze a few weeks ago at the ISSF Junior World Cup in Suhl.
The other Indian team of Deepak Kumar and Anjum could not qualify for the medal rounds.
50m Rifle 3P Men’s Team
The Indian team of Swapnil, Goldi and Deepak had to settle for silver after losing 7-17 to the Croatian team of Miran Maricic, Andrija Mikuljan and Josip Sikavica in the gold medal match.
50m Rifle 3P Women’s Team
The Indian team of Anjum, Ashi and Ayushi finished sixth and could not qualify for the medal matches.
10m Air Rifle: A disappointment
While the Indian 50m Rifle squad had reasons to cheer, the 10m Air Rifle team will have to go back to the drawing board. Barring Elavenil Valarivan ‘s unlucky 10th-place finish despite scoring 629.1, the scores registered by other Indians in the individual events could at best be called fair-to-middling.
The story was no different in the 10m Air Rifle Mixed Team event. The only consolation came in the Women’s Team event. The Indian team of Elavenil, Shreya Agrawal and Ramita won the gold medal after beating Denmark by a score of 17-5 while the Indian Men’s Team of Rudrankksh Balasaheb Patil, Paarth Makhija and Dhanush Srikanth lost 10-16 to Croatia in the bronze medal match.
India, without the pistol and shotgun teams, ultimately finished fifth in the medal standings with two golds and three silvers. The results in 50m Rifle have shown improvements over the Baku and Suhl World Cups while the 10m Air Rifle team has a long way to go in matching the highs of the 2019 season.