Shooting World Championship: Sift Kaur Samra bags India’s sixth Paris quota Baku

New Delhi: Sift Kaur Samra won India their sixth quota place for the 2024 Paris Olympics, finishing fifth in the Women’s 50m Rifle 3 Positions (3P) at the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Championship (All Events) in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Aiming for the Baku Shooting Centre early on Monday, Sift won the quota after she qualified for the final with a national record score of 589, which she shot twice on Monday. She, however, missed a coveted World Championship medal despite heroic shooting.

It was yet another China 1-2 in Women’s 3P, with Zhang Qiongyue winning gold with a score of 465.3 in the final, while her compatriot Han Jiayu won silver with 463.5. American Sagen Maddalena won bronze while Sift finished with a score of 429.1, the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) informed in a release on Monday.

Sift said after the match, “I am feeling so excited about winning the quota and it was really a fun match for me. The experience was really great because my (shooting) in the Kneeling position was not that good in qualification, but my standing was very good. I am proud of how I did in the Standing position today. It means a lot to me and the country as it’s the first 50m quota among women.”

India now have won three quota places for Paris at the Baku World Championships with Mehuli Ghosh in the Women’s 10m Air Rifle and Akhil Sheoran in the Men’s 50m Rifle 3 Positions winning quotas and world championship bronze medals in the previous days. India now have six quota places overall in shooting for the Paris games.

India also find themselves third on the medal tally with four gold and three bronze medals behind powerhouses China and the USA. A total of 24 of the 101 participating nations have bagged medals so far.

The 3P grind

As is the norm with 3-Positions shooters, Sift’s grind began early morning with the elimination rounds after which 29 of the 99 shooters were eliminated. If morning shows the day, Sift’s round of 589 for second spot in relay two, certainly boded well. It was a national record.

In the 70-strong qualification round, all three Indians including Sift had a tough first 15 shots in the Kneeling position, registering identical scores of 192 out of 200. Prone was always going to be Sift’s strongest round and she bettered her 198 in elimination with a 199 to begin her climb up the leaderboard.

But it was the Standing round, considered the toughest of the three positions, in which she really blossomed, delivering a superb 198 to make the top eight in fifth position with a repeat of the 589.

As fortune favours the brave, Sift in the process also bagged one of the four available Paris quotas, given four of the other seven qualifiers — Korean Lee Eunseo, Norway’s Jenny Stene, USA’s Sagen Maddalena and Poland’s Natalia Kochanska had already secured their quotas in earlier competitions and only one of the two Chinese finalists could bag a quota place.

It was nothing sort of sensational. The team missed a medal, finishing fifth overall with a tally of 1761. Ashi Chouksey individually finished 29th with a score of 582, while Manini shot 580 for a 40th-place finish.

The Final

Sift began the final with a 10.1. but by and large inconsistent shooting meant that she was in the seventh and elimination spot at the end of the 15-each Kneeling and Prone positions shots. The fight at the top was between the two Chinese Han and Zhang and the American Sagen Maddalena.

Continuing with her stellar form in the Standing position on the day, she moved up to fifth and at the end of the first five shots with a series of 53. But 9s for her 37th and 38th shots put her back in danger of elimination. She just managed to save it to secure sixth first and then with another slim 10 move back up to fifth after the 41st.

She was then 0.7 behind the Olympic champion Nina Christen whom she beat on the shot with a 10.3 to Nina’s 10.2, but it was not enough.

Well-positioned in Rapid-Fire Pistol

Also, in a good position at the end of the day’s play were the Men’s 25m Rapid-Fire Pistol squad, who was in pole position after the first Precision round in the team event, with Adarsh Singh and Anish also shooting solid Precision rounds to be second and seventh in the individual event.

The second Rapid-Fire round of qualification is scheduled for Tuesday with the final also later in the day.  Vijayveer Sidhu was in the 32nd spot with a score of 287 out of 300. Only the top six make it to the final.

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