PALEMBANG, Aug 22: Rahi Sarnobat today became the first Indian female shooter to win a gold at the Asian Games, achieving the rare feat after a nerve-wracking 25m air pistol finals here today.
The 27-year-old held her nerve to pip Thailand�s Naphaswan Yangpaiboon in a heart-stopping contest after both were tied at 34 points following 10 series of five shots each, taking it to a shoot-off.
Both found the target four times in the shoot-off, leading to another shoot-off where Rahi shot three and the Thai two, ensuring a historic gold for the Kolhapur-born shooter.
The bronze went to South Korea�s Kim Minjung.
Rahi was in the lead for the major part of the final and her first 10 shots were on target. She got a five out of five even in the sixth series.
With her stellar effort, Rahi became the second gold medallist from the Indian shooting contingent after 16-year-old Saurabh Chaudhary had shot a gold in the 10m pistol finals yesterday.
She is also the sixth Indian to shoot a gold at the Games, joining Chaudhary, Jaspal Rana, Randhir Singh, Jitu Rai and Ronjan Sodhi. Her 34 in the finals also ended up as a joint Games record.
The talented Manu Bhaker cracked under pressure to finish sixth in the finals. The 16-year-old had a remarkable morning as she had shot 593 to equal the Games qualification record. Rahi had sneaked into the finals in seventh place, shooting 580.
Rahi, who had become India�s first pistol shooter to win a gold in World Cup back in 2013, had suffered a serious elbow injury last year. Realising that she needed a tweak in her technique, Rahi roped in Munkhbayar Dorjsuren, a two-time world champion and Olympic medallist from Germany.
�I had to change her technique and I also worked on her a lot on the mental aspect of the game. She was already a high-level shooter and needed some tweak in her game. It was a close final but I had prepared her for the shoot-off,� Dorjsuren, who moved to Germany from Mongolia, told PTI.
The Mongolian-German coach also knows the legendary Gabriele Buhlmann well. Buhlmann had coached Abhinav Bindra to India�s only individual Olympic gold in 2008.
Rahi is a double gold medallist at the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games and had a bronze in the 25m pistol pairs event at the 2014 Incheon Asian Games.
In the women�s Rifle 3 Positions event, Anjum Moudgil and Gayathri Nithyanandam failed to qualify for the final. Moudgil had a great start to the qualification but flopped in the standing series to bow out of the competition. � PTI