Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Aishwary fights past extreme circumstances to win 3P gold in Cairo

The 22-year-old has learnt his lessons from the Tokyo showing and come out stronger

On a windy day in Cairo, Aishwary Pratap Singh Tomar trumped the conditions in a tight final to win the gold medal in the 50m rifle three positions at the ISSF World Cup. It was Tomar’s third World Cup individual gold, and one that would give him immense confidence in a year when he will be fighting for a Paris Olympics quota. Swapnil Kusale has secured one of the two quota places on offer for India in 3P at the world championships last year.

It also augurs well for the 22-year-old ahead of the ISSF World Cup at his home range in Bhopal next month.

Tomar has come a long way since his sensational run before the Tokyo Olympics that saw him become world No. 1 in one of the most gruelling events in shooting. However, the Tokyo Olympics turned out to be a debacle for Indian shooters. Many have since lost their place in the India squad but Tomar showed resilience to come through that bleak phase stronger and a better shooter. He has not only maintained his place in the team but is gradually getting back to taking the podium in big events.

“There was no point in brooding too much over what happened in Tokyo. I was competing in the Olympics for the first time and the positive was that I did not have such a bad performance. I did well in kneeling and prone positions,” Tomar said from Cairo. “So I worked on my weaknesses, improved my standing position, brought some technical changes, and worked on my fitness. The experience of Tokyo has helped. There was no negativity as I have good support around me”

It all came together at the World Cup in Changwon last year where he won gold, and then followed it up with another brilliant showing at the junior world championships, winning the crown with a world-record equaling score in qualification.

At the Egypt International Olympic City Shooting range, conditions were tough but he has been there before. “This is my third time in this range which is one of the windiest in the world. With experience, we know how to adapt and make changes.”

Tomar topped the qualification (588 points) followed by Akhil Sheoran (587). Both Indians made the cut for the eight-shooter ranking round that also had Tokyo medalist Jon-Hermann Hegg. After initially lying in sixth place in the kneeling round, Tomar clawed his way to second place with an impressive round in prone and standing positions. He got better as the match progressed. In the gold medal match against Austria’s Alexander Schmirl 16-6, Tomar was simply brilliant and cruised through 16-6.

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