NEW DELHI: Madhya Pradesh shooter Chinki Yadav, a daughter of an electrician father in Bhopal, is relieved to have finally put the speculation surrounding her selection in the Tokyo Olympics-bound team for the women’s 25m sports pistol event behind. Chinki, an Olympic quota holder, was involved in a three-way fight with Rahi Sarnobat and Manu Bhaker for a place in the country’s shooting contingent for Tokyo in the 25m sports pistol. While Rahi was sure about travelling, it was a toss-up between a young Chinki and Manu, the reigning Commonwealth and Youth Olympic Games champion in 10m air pistol.
However, on Wednesday, with a gold-winning performance in the 25m sports pistol at the ongoing ISSF shooting World Cup at the KSSR here, Chinki looked to have settled the issue in her favour once and for all. In a nervy final, Chinki had to stave off a spirited challenge from Rahi to win the gold 4-3 in a shoot-off after the two Madhya Pradesh shooters were locked at 32-points each after the end of their respective series. This was Chinki’s first individual medal in the ISSF World Cup. She had participated in the World Cups before, but couldn’t finish on the podium.
Manu settled for third place in the eight-woman final with 28 points. She was neck-and-neck with Chinki for the lead, but missed four of the five shots in the seventh series. In the bronze medal series, both Rahi and Manu hit four of their respective five targets each but Rahi qualified for the gold-silver medal round on the 29-28 aggregate. It’s for the first time that three Indian shooters finished on the top of the podium at the shooting World Cup.
“I won’t lie but yes the pressure was definitely there on me. I was sweating and there was a certain vibration happening in my body. To soothe my frayed nerves, I was controlling my breathing sequence. When you have so much at stake to perform, you definitely feel pressurised. But, it’s with every other competition. Important part is to focus on your own individual performance, give your best and whatever you did during the training, accept the outcome and move on,” Chinki said after the medal ceremony.
On a related query, does she believe it will now be impossible for the NRAI’s selection committee to keep her out of the Olympic race, given her gold-winning performance? “I have never thought about the selection. I just tried to give my best during the final. But I think what you have just said is also correct,” she said nonchalantly. While Manu is sure about competing in the women’s 10m air pistol and mixed team event with Saurabh Chaudhary, she was also staking a claim for a possible third quota in the 25m sports pistol. Now, with Chinki relegating her to the third position, the 2017 junior world championship bronze medallist can heave a sigh of relief.
Chinki started her shooting career in 2012 at the Tatya Tope stadium in Bhopal. Her father Mehtab Singh Yadav has been associated with the sports department for the past 23 years. At the residential academy of the stadium, she started participating in the youth category in the 10m air pistol events. But, a year later in 2013, she switched to the 25m sports pistol and since then, there has been no looking back for the 23-year-old. She has been training under coach Jaspal Rana at the Madhya Pradesh shooting academy in Bhopal.
Talking about her tense final and the subsequent shoot-off, Chinki said she had been preparing for such situations during her training at the MP shooting academy. “Match pressure comes to everyone naturally. I am not some kind of an exception. During the shoot-off, it was never on the back of my mind that who will come first and who the second. All I was thinking about giving my best. Finally, whatever I worked for during my training, it paid off. The gold has given my confidence a huge boost and this will hold me in good stead at the Olympics,” she signed off.