Manu Bhaker continued her gold rush this year by winning yet another gold in the women's 10m air pistol event, this time at the ISSF World Cup Final in Putian, China on Thursday. Bhaker shot a score of 244.7 in the final -- in the process setting a new junior world record in the event.
Fellow prodigy Elavenil Valarivan also capped an impressive 2019 by winning gold in the women's 10m air rifle event after shooting 250.8 in the final to finish ahead of Chinese Taipei's Lin Ying-Shin (250.7) and Romania's Laura-Georgeta Coman (229).
Divyansh Singh Panwar also won gold in the men's 10m air rifle event after shooting a score of 250.1 in the final. He had earlier secured a quota for the Tokyo Olympics after winning a silver medal in the event at the Beijing World Cup earlier this year in April. This is 17-year-old Panwar's maiden World Cup Final win in just his first appearance at the tournament. Hungary's Istvan Peni won silver (250.0), while Slovakia's Patrik Jany won bronze (228.4).
India top the medal standings after the penultimate day of competition with three golds, followed by China (two golds, one silver and one bronze) and France (one gold and one bronze).
In the women's 10m air pistol event, Serbia's Zorana Arunovic won silver with a score of 241.9, while China's Qian Wang won bronze with a final tally of 221.8. Yashaswini Singh Deswal, the other Indian in fray, also made the final but had to be content with a sixth-placed finish after shooting a score of 158.8.
Bhaker was just the third Indian woman to win a gold medal at a World Cup Final after Heena Sidhu and Anjali Bhagwat. Sidhu had also won gold in the same event in 2013 before Valarivan joined her as the fourth. Apurvi Chandela is the only other Indian woman to medal at a World Cup Final.
Both Bhagwat and Chandela medaled in the 10m air rifle event, with Bhagwat winning gold in 2003 and silver in 2002. Chandela also won a silver in 2015.
Earlier, Deswal and Bhaker had finished seventh and eighth respectively in the qualification round after scoring identical scores of 578. Deswal finished higher as she had 25 Xs (perfect shots) as opposed to Bhaker's 13.
Bhaker has been in scintillating form of late, winning two golds at the Asian Shooting Championships earlier this month. She had won gold in the women's 10m air pistol and mixed team 10m air pistol event (with Abhishek Verma) at the continental championships.
Bhaker had previously won four golds at each of the four World Cups this year in the 10m air pistol mixed team event with Saurabh Chaudhary. She is also the most successful Indian shooter at World Cups, as her six golds are easily the most by any Indian in history.
The women's 10m air rifle event saw as many as four Indians in the fray. While the experienced duo of Anjum Moudgil and Chandela bowed out after finishing 13th (624.9) and 15th (622.7) respectively, the young duo of Valarivan and Ghosh qualified for the final. Valarivan finished second in the qualification phase with a tally of 631.1, while Ghosh finished sixth after shooting 629.3.
Valarivan had won gold in the same event at the Rio de Janeiro World Cup earlier this year besides finishing fourth in the same event at the Muncih World Cup.
Panwar first shot to prominence at the Lakshya Cup earlier this year, where he shot a score of 252.3 in the final -- bettering Russian Alexander Dryagin's world record score of 251.2, which was set at the 2018 Changwon World Cup. The teenager also won gold at the Asian Airgun Championships in Taoyuan earlier this year, where he shot a score of 249.7 in the final.
He qualified for the final in third place after shooting a score of 627.1 in the qualification round. He's just the fourth Indian man to win gold at a World Cup Final after Gagan Narang (10m air rifle, 2008), Ronjan Sodhi (double trap, 2010 and 2011) and Jitu Rai (10m air pistol mixed team, 2017).
Other than his silver in Beijing, Panwar won gold in the 10m air rifle mixed team event at the Beijing and Munich World Cups and a bronze at the Rio de Janeiro World Cup.
In other results, Abhishek Verma and Saurabh Chaudhary narrowly missed out on a medal in the men's 10m air pistol event, as they finished fifth and sixth respectively in the final after shooting scores of 179.4 and 159.8.
Verma had topped the qualification round with a score of 588, while Chaudhary finished seventh with a score of 581. Chaudhary and Verma had equally split the four golds in this event in the four previous World Cups this year. Shahzar Rizvi, the third Indian in action in the same event, failed to make the final after shooting a score of 577 in the qualification round to finish 12th.
The World Cup Final is the last event in the ISSF calendar every year and features the best shooters from the four previous World Cups in the calendar year.