World Cup debutant shooter Pooja Ghatkar clinched a bronze medal — India’s first medal at the ongoing ISSF World Cup in New Delhi on Friday.

Pooja was competing in the women’s 10m air rifle event and acquired the third spot with a total of 228.8 to win her maiden World Cup medal, at the Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range. China’s Mengyao Shi and Dong Lijie being the winners of the gold medal (with 252.1) and silver medal respectively.

In her first appearance at the World Cup podium, the 28-year-old Pooja made it to the finals, leaving behind Vinita Bhardwaj and Megha Sajjanar, who were the favourites of the National Rifle Association of India. But sadly, the two players failed to qualify for the final and finished 16th and 20th respectively.

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An Asian champion in 10m air rifle, Pooja was coached by Olympic bronze-medallist Gagan Narang, whose strict training sessions assured her a medal in this global platform. Even while her campaign was at its peak, both Narang and Pooja went through a few technical challenges like when the blinder of her gun fell and she opted to shoot her final few shots with an eye closed. Narang stood beside Pooja throughout and helped her carry on shooting in such a difficult situation. The hard work finally paid off!

Pooja went on to finish second with 418.0, behind eventual champion Mengayo (418.6) and ahead of the Lijie (417.7) in the qualification.

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While the Chinese shooters took home the top two trophies in the final, Pooja‘s brilliant performance at this prestigious platform is clap-worthy.

Earlier, the shooter won gold in the Asian Air Gun Championship in 2014 while missing an Olympic berth last year by a whisker. She won the bronze at the Asia Olympic Qualifying Competition alongside Ayonika Paul, who won silver.

Kudos to Pooja!

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