Shooter Rai wins India’s first gold at Incheon Asian Games

Sunday, 21 September 2014 00:02 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Reuters: Jitu Rai won India’s first gold medal at the Asian Games on Saturday, clinching the men’s 50 metre pistol event after his closest opponent cracked under pressure. Success in shooting is not unusual for India, whose marksmen are among the most accomplished in the world. Rai is one of their best, a soldier with a cool head and a steady hand. He needed all those attributes to win gold on Saturday after a wretched week for India’s shooters. Rai was among the favourites before the competition after finishing runner-up at the recent world championships but was off target early. The 27-year-old qualified just seventh for the final as South Korea’s Jin Jong-oh set the early pace. Jin is a master of his sport, having won three Olympic gold medals and setting a world record to beat Rai at the world championships. But Saturday was not his day and he faltered quickly in the finals, where the scores were re-set, wiping out the advantage he had from the preliminaries. He was the second man eliminated, a result made all the disappointment because his country is hosting the Games. “I’m sorry that I wasn’t able to live up to lots of people’s expectations,” he said. “But I’ll do my best at tomorrow’s 10m air pistol event, and keep devoting myself to my athletic career.” The defending champion, China’s Pu Qifeng, also bowed out early as Rai was steadily finding his aim. But with one shot to go, Rai was still in second place behind Vietnam’s Hoang Phuong Nguyen. This is the moment that tests the nerves of all shooters. Rai shot straight but Nguyen was slightly off, scoring just 5.8 points. Gold to India. Rai, who also won gold at the Commonwealth Games in Scotland a few months ago, received his medal from the International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach. It was a golden end to a messy week for India’s shooters. Instead of flying directly to South Korea, most of them were forced to return home from world championship in Spain because their entries had not been sent on time, wasting precious time when they should have been on the range.