IMAGE: The 19-year-old Nischal finished behind Norwegian rifle ace Jeanette Hegg Duestad with a score of 458.0 in the final. Photograph: SAI Media/X
Young Indian shooter Nischal stamped her mark on the ISSF World Cup, winning the silver medal in the women’s 50 metre Rifle 3 Positions event, in Rio De Janeiro, on Monday.
It was India’s second medal on the concluding day of the tournament.
Her achievement is credible given that this was her first senior World Cup appearance.
Nischal finished behind Norwegian rifle ace Jeanette Hegg Duestad with a score of 458.0 in the final.
Duestad is the reigning Air Rifle European Champion, 300m 3P World champion and has 12 ISSF World Cup medals to her name, including five gold. She was also fourth in the Tokyo Olympics.
Nischal was in supreme form throughout the day, breaking the qualification National record in women’s 3P in the process.
“It is my first World Cup final and I have a medal, so I am very happy for that,” said the 19-year-old.
It all began with the elimination rounds in the morning, when a total of 18 shooters were eliminated over two rounds, totalling 73 competitors.
She shot a solid 587 in relay one to safely make it to qualification. So did her two countrywomen, previous qualification National record holder Anjum Moudgil and Ayushi Podder, both of whom shot in relay two.
Then, in qualification, Nischal shot a sublime 592, including a perfect 200 in the prone position, to erase Anjum’s score of 591, shot in the President’s Cup in Cairo last year.
Anjum herself shot a solid 586, but finished 10th and miss edthe final by a point. Ayushi was further back in 35th, with 580.
The final had a stellar field. Besides Duestad, there was qualification topper (594) and World champion Wanru Miao of China, 2018 Youth Olympic champion Stephanie Grundsoee of Denmark, Italian Olympian Sofia Ceccarello and senior Polish shooter Aneta Stankiewicz, among others.
Not one to be fazed, Nischal went head-to-head with Duestad from get go of the 45-shot final. She was 0.1 behind the Norwegian after the first 15 kneeling shots and the same after the consequent 15 shots in the prone position.
By the time Ukranian Viktoriya Sukhorukova and Swiss shooter Chiara Leone were first to be eliminated after the first 10-shots in the standing position, Duestad had opened up a gap of 0.7 over the Indian.
A 9.4 by the Norwegian for her 41st was cancelled out by a 9.0 from Nischal for her 42nd and the gap widened to 1.1.
An 8.4 for the 43rd almost cost her a medal, but Wanru still fell short of the Indian and bowed out in fourth. Thereafter, Stephanie Grundsoee, who had moved up to second, shot a 7.9 in her 44th shot, assuring Nischal of silver and herself settling for bronze.
Duestad closed out calmly for gold with a 10.2 and a score of 461.5, a clear 3.5 ahead of the Haryana shooter.
Gurpreet Singh was also in action in the other medal event of the concluding day but could not make much headway, shooting 574 to finish 15th in the men’s 25m Rapid Fire Pistol.
The 16-member Indian contingent thus returned with one gold and a silver from the Rio World Cup and a creditable seventh position in the standings. Elavenil Valarivan had won the women’s 10m Air Rifle gold in tremendous fashion.
Earlier in the week two more Indians missed making the finals by the narrowest of possible margins. Reigning Asian Games champion Rahi Sarnobat, missed making the final of the women’s 25m Pistol by virtue of having lesser shots in the inner 10-ring.
On Sunday, another seasoned Indian shooter Chain Singh missed making the men’s 3P final by a point.