NEW DELHI: In front of a crowd limited to fellow athletes and media at the ongoing ISSF World Cup here, Yashaswini Singh Deswal left the much-fancied Manu Bhaker well behind to clinch the gold medal in a low-scoring women’s 10m air pistol final. To give a further lift to herself and the sparse crowd, Yashwini chanted, “Bharat mata ki jai” at the medal ceremony.
“It [the chant] is something I normally do, after the National Anthem,” she said with a smile at the press conference. “Usually my friends in the crowd do it. But as they were not here, I did it myself.”
In the end, it was a difference of 2.1 points between the first-placed Yashaswini (238.8) and Manu (236.7), but the 23-year-old Yashaswini looked in control right from the start and continued to stretch the lead over her closest rival. At one point, the difference in points was 3.3.
From thereon, it was always an uphill task for Manu, who is ranked No. 2 in the world compared to Yashaswini who is No. 4. The bronze medal went to Viktoria Chaika of Belarus (215.9 points).
The third Indian shooter in the top-eight final was Shri Nivetha Paramanantham. She finished fourth with a score of 193.5.
Yashwini had topped the qualification round as well, with a tally of 579 points, followed by Manu in second place with 577. Shri Nivetha was fourth in qualifying, with 575 points.
The gold-medal win was also redemption for Yashaswini, who was banned by the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) last year for participating in an online competition during the lockdown. That ban, however, will be applicable after the Tokyo Olympics in July-August this year.
When asked about it, Yashaswini chose to not comment and kept silent.
The final remained close at the top until Manu shot four average shots to concede a big lead.
Manu shot 8.8, 9.2, 9.5 and 9.6 in her 13th to 16th shot, which allowed Yashwini to surge ahead. However, both the medal-winning Indians were inconsistent in terms of hitting the 10s.
“Yes, it was a low-scoring final. I will improve, we all will. It’s work in progress,” said the 23-year-old Yashaswini.
“I was trying to do my best. It [this World Cup] is one of the only two competitions [for rifle and pistol] before the Olympics, so I had to focus on my temperament [in the final],” Yashaswini added.
“If you can win over your mind, you can win over yourself.”
Both Yashaswini and Manu bagged 10m women’s air pistol Olympic quotas for India.