New stars were born and old heroes gained redemption on a stellar day for Indian shooters at the 2023 Asian Games that saw them win seven medals, including two golds, three silvers and two bronze at the Fuyang Yinhu Sports Centre in Hangzhou.
Sift Kaur Samra and the women's 25m Pistol team bagged the top honours on the day, finishing on top of the podium with Samra even creating a new world record on her way to the gold medal.
The day started with Sift in fact teaming up with Ashi Chouksey and Mannini Kaushik for a silver in the 50m Rifle 3-positions event. Ashi also collected a bronze medal in the individual event, that was won by Sift.
Manu Bhaker, seeking redemption after a forgettable outing on her Asian Games debut in 2018, was in stunning form earlier this morning, helping the 25m Pistol team win the gold, but fumbled in the individual final and finished fifth. Esha Singh though showed nerves of steel to fight her way into contention and finished with a silver.
The day ended with the male shooters also adding two medals to the tally. First the skeet team combined to win a bronze before Anant Jeet Singh Naruka put up an extremely tough fight, missing just two targets in the 60-shot final, to finish with a silver.
Sift, Ashi & Manini Start Day With Silver
It was a big day for India with many medal favourites in action in the shooting arena and the Women's 50m Rifle 3-position team kicked things off with a silver.
Sift Kaur Samra, Ashi Chouksey and Manini Kaushik finished with a total of 1764 points to finish behind the Chinese team in the qualification event, which was also the final of the team event.
The Indian team of Sift, Mannini and Ashi shot an aggregate score of 1764 to finish behind the Chinese team of Han J, Xia S and Zhang Q, who had a total of 1773.
Republic of Korea Finished third for the bronze medal with a score of 1756.
Sift and Ashi also qualified for the final of the individual event.
Pistol Team Bags a Gold
The Women's 25m Pistol Team then grabbed the spotlight as Manu Bhaker, Rhythm Sangwan and Esha Singh continued from where they had left off at the end of the first phase on Tuesday and covered themselves in glory with a good performance in Rapid fire section. The Indians were already in the lead after the precision round on Tuesday.
They finished with a combined score of 1759, ahead of China, who had a score of 1756 with Korea taking the bronze medal with a score of 1742.
At the end of the first day of precision shooting, the Indians had a total of 887 as compared to 874 of the Chinese.
On Wednesday, the Indians complied a score of 883 while the Chinese shot 882 as they gave the Indians a tough fight. In the end, the big advantage the Indians gained on the first day --especially in the opening series in which they bagged 292 points while the Chinese could manage only 288 -- of the two-day competition proved enough for them to claim the top spot and the gold medal.
Based on their stellar show in the qualification round, Manu Bhaker and Esha Singh also made the cut for the final of the individual event.
Men's Skeet Team Also Win Bronze
The skeet shooters were not to be left behind and they too finished on the podium in the team event with Anant Jeet Singh Naruka, Gurjoat Singh Khangura and Angad Vir Singh Bajwa bagging a bronze with a total of 355 points.
China won the gold with 362 points while Qatar clinched the silver with 359.
Anant, with a score of 121, after made the cut for the final later in the afternoon.
Sift Stars With Gold in Individual Event
As the individual finals got underway in the afternoon, Sift Kaur Samra displayed a record-breaking performance to claim the gold medal in the Women's 50m Rifle 3-positions event.
With a score of 469.6, Sift set a new World Record, a new Asian Games record and also the Asian Record to finish on the top in one of the most difficult of the shooting competitions as it tests the shooter's abilities in kneeling, prone and standing positions.
Sift broke the previous world record of 467.0 held by Seonaid McIntosh of Great Britain, who set the mark at the ISSF World Cup in Baku in May this year.
India's Ashi Chouksey (451.9) claimed the bronze medal in this category finishing behind China's Qiongyue Zhang (462.3).
Manu Falters, Esha Stuns in Pistol Final
The Women's 25m Pistol Individual event featured one Indian Asian Games debutant, and another 'veteran' looking for redemption after her debut in 2018, at the age of 16.
Manu Bhaker has faced a lot of criticism for her outings in finals but the young 21-year-old displayed nerves of steel in the qualification event to help India win gold and was expected to finish on the podium in the individual event as well. However, she was eliminated in the fifth position even as Esha Singh was in capital touch as she made her way into the podium positions with near perfect five shots in the critical series.
Esha shot a score of 34 points and finished second behind China's Rui Liu, who set a new Asian Games record with a total of 38 points, improving the previous mark of 34 points set by India's Rahi Sarnobat in 2018 edition in Jakarta/Palembang (Indonesia).
Korea's Jiin Yang took the bronze medal with a score of 29 points after winning a shoot-off with China's Sixuan Feng.
Anant Bags a Silver to Wrap Up Day
Anant Jeet Singh Naruka made history for India in the Men's Skeet Individual event, winning the first-ever silver medal for the country in the event.
Anant finished with 58 points out of a possible 60 in the final, surging up the table after qualifying in the fourth position.
The 25-year-old shooter from Rajasthan finished second behind the 60-year-old Abdullah Al Rashadi of Kuwait, who equalled the World Record with a perfect finals score of 60 to win the gold medal.
This is only the second medal won by India in the men's skeet competition after Dr Karni Singh bagged bronze way back in the 1974 edition in Tehran.