Saurabh Chaudhary and Rahi Sarnobat took India's gold tally to three at the ISSF World Cup in Munich, by winning the men's 10m air pistol and women's 25m pistol event respectively on Monday. While Saurabh won his gold with a finals world record score of 246.3, Rahi's gold clinched a quota for India in the women's 25m pistol event at the Tokyo Olympics.
With Apurvi Chandela's gold in the women's 10m air rifle event on Sunday, India are now on top of the medals tally in Munich after two days.
Saurabh, who had already booked a quota for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics during his maiden World Cup outing in New Delhi in February, held the previous finals world record as well, having shot a score of 245 in that event on home soil.
Artem Chersunov of Russia and Wei Pang of China won silver and bronze, respectively, behind the 17-year-old from Meerut. Saurabh began with a 9.3 in his first shot, but then pulled off five shots all of 10.1 or more, to find himself within 0.6 of Chersunov in the first round of shots. The second round of six shots saw Chaudhary claim the lead for the first time, his 50.5 in that round riddled with three shots under 10.0 but two at 10.7. He would maintain the lead throughout each of the eliminations, and ended with two shots of 10.3, one 10.7 in four of his last five shots, before comfortably breaking his own world record with a score of 10.6 in his final shot.
Meanwhile, with a winning score of 37, Rahi became the first Indian woman to win two golds in the 25m pistol event, having previously won gold in the same event at the Changwon World Cup in 2013. She is the only Indian to win gold in this event at a World Cup and also holds the distinction of being the first Indian woman shooter to win gold at the Asian Games. However, Manu Bhaker narrowly missed out on a medal and a quota for the Olympics after shooting a score of 21 in the final to finish fifth.
This win caps a remarkable comeback for Kolhapur's Rahi. Back in the summer of 2014, she was amongst India's most prominent pistol shooters with medals including a World Cup gold in Changwon in 2013. However, a freak accident nearly ended her entire career. Heading to practice in Pune, she tripped over a step and broke her fall with her shooting elbow. It was diagnosed as a hairline fracture.
The Olympics were in sight and Rahi continued to train. She even won a gold at the 2014 Commonwealth Games but eventually missed out on a spot at the Rio Olympics and only started to shoot again towards the end of 2016. While the NRAI can choose to send a different shooter to the Olympics, her performance here should see her back at the Olympics after a eight-year gap.
Saurabh's compatriot Shahzar Rizvi also made the final, but finished fifth with a score of 177.6. India already have five quotas in place for the 2020 Olympics; Saurabh and Abhishek Verma earned berths in the 10m air pistol for men, Anjum Moudgil and Chandela in the 10m air rifle for women, and Divyansh Singh Panwar in the 10m air rifle for men.