Shooter Ayonika bags Rio Olympics quota

New Delhi, Jan 29 (IANS) Ayonika Paul took silver in the women’s 10m Air Rifle event at the Asian Olympic qualifying tournament to secure a quota for the Rio Games at the Karni Singh Shooting Range here on Friday.

Indian shooters have secured 11 quota berths for the Rio Olympics so far. They have thus matched the number of quota berths secured at the previous Olympics in London four years ago. With four more days to go in the event, the Indian shooting squad look set to go one better than London in Rio as far as quota berths are concerned. The squad had won two medals in London.

There were two quota places available in the women’s 10m Air Rifle event. However, India were eligible for only one since each country can win a maximum of two quotas per event. Apurvi Chandela had already secured one quota in the event in earlier competitions.

After the 40 shot qualifying round, Ayonika had a score of 416.6 points to be placed third while Pooja Ghatkar shot 415.6 to finish sixth. Both entered the eight-woman final round which comprises of 20 shots where shooters start getting eliminated after the eigth shot onwards.

Pooja and Ayonika were in the gold and silver positions respectively till the 18th shot when the former shot a surprise 8.8 to be relegated to the bronze medal position.

Iranian Najmeh Khidmati, who is a world number 10 and already had a quota secured in the event, meanwhile was slowly and steadily catching up with the Indian leaders. She finally caught up with Ayonika in the 20th shot and both tied at 205.9 to go into a shoot-off for the gold. The quota being secured, Ayonika shot a disappointing 9.9 in the shoot-off to Khidmati’s 10.1 to take the silver. The other quota in the event went to Korea’s Eunseo Lee who finished fourth in the finals.

“The last two shots are still ringing in my mind. I was here to win Gold but the Iranian finished strongly. I will start training again from tomorrow morning itself to ensure I improve on my first and last shots. I am happy at having won the quota but disappointed at losing out on the Gold,” Ayonika, who was elated at having secured her goal, said later.

In the day’s other event, the men’s 50m Pistol, former world champion Tomoyuki Matsuda of Japan won the gold. North Koreans took the next two spots with Song Guk Kim claiming silver and Jong Su Kim taking the bronze. Both the Rio quotas in the event though were claimed by North Korea as Matsuda had already secured a quota in earlier competitions.

India’s Omkar Singh finished fourth in an event where India had already exhausted its quotas through Jitu Rai and Prakash Nanjappa earlier.

The fourth day of the competition will see the final of the Men’s 10m Air Rifle and Men’s Double Trap events. India are looking at a strong possibility of securing an Olympic quota in the Double Trap event.

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