Mehuli Ghosh wins Worlds bronze, Paris quota

India’s Mehuli Ghosh won the 10m air rifle bronze at the World Shooting Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan on Saturday and in the process earned a quota spot for the 2024 Paris Olympics. Ghosh, Tilottama Sen and Ramita Jindal claimed the team gold, India’s second after Shiva Narwal and Esha Singh won the 10m air pistol mixed team title on Friday.

India’s Mehuli Ghosh poses for picture after winning bronze in the women’s 10m air rifle event at the ISSF World Championships, in Baku on Saturday.(SAI Twitter)

It is Ghosh’s first individual World Championships medal, having won the team bronze in Cairo last year.

Ghosh, 22, who shot 634.5 to top the qualifying round, accumulated 229.8 points in the 24-shot eight-women final, where she was eliminated after 22 shots. China’s Han Jiayu won gold with compatriot and Cairo Worlds champion Wang Zhilin finished second. Jiayu shot 251.4 in the final and Zhilin 250.2.

Tilottama Sen, 15, shot 631.3 points to be sixth after the qualifiers and reach the final – Ramita logged 630.1 points to finish 11th in a 140-strong field – on her Worlds debut. She acquitted herself well, finishing fourth after being eliminated in the final at her score of 208.4.

A protege of former national rifle coach Joydeep Karmakar, Ghosh topped the qualifiers where Jiayu qualified in the third spot (632.3) and Zhilin last (630.8) for the. However, the Chinese stepped up when it mattered as Ghosh crumbled with three shot remaining to go out after assuring herself of the third spot. The top four earned Olympic quota spots.

In the final, Ghosh was the slowest starter with a 10.2, while Sen shot 10.4 to be seventh. After the first five single shot series, however, Ghosh was up to second and didn’t leave the top bracket until she bowed out. Sen struggled at the bottom before being eliminated.

With one point separating the Chinese duo and Ghosh at the end of the fifth series, the Indian needed to hit the inner 10s. A 10.7 from Zhilin kept her ahead while Ghosh’s best in that two-shot series was 10.6. By then, a string of inner 10s from Jiayu kept her in the lead.

A 10.1 from Ghosh in the next series and a perfect 10.9 from Zhilin ensured the 22-year-old Indian would finish third. However, a 10.8 for her 20th shot had helped her pip Sen to the podium.

“I was very excited and nervous for the final. I can still feel the nerves. There was very little difference among us. It was very exciting and I am happy with the result,” Ghosh said.

Besides the mixed team air pistol gold, Shiva Narwal, Sarabjot Singh and Arjun Singh Cheema had won the men’s team bronze in the event.

With 48 Olympic quota places available, the Baku event is important in the calendar. Ghosh’s quota is India’s fourth for Paris — Rudrankksh Patil (air rifle), Swapnil Kusale (rifle 3-position) and Bhowneesh Mendiratta (trap) have also earned quota spots.

In the day’s other Indian results, Divyansh Singh Panwar was the top Indian finisher in men’s 10m air rifle with a qualification score of 627.5 points giving him a 28th place finish. Aishwary Pratap Singh Tomar ended 33rd with 627.3 while Hriday Hazarika finished 68th with 623.6.

In men’s skeet, Angad Vir Singh Bajwa’s creditable 121 in qualification was good enough for only a 29th place finish. Anant Jeet Singh Naruka shot 120 to finish 44th while Gurjoat Khangura finished 95th with a score of 115.

India finished the day with two gold and two bronze medals each and in the third place on the medal tally, behind leaders China and USA, who have two gold and one silver.

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