SHOOTER Manish Narwal smashed the Paralympic record to clinch India’s third gold in the ongoing Tokyo Games, while compatriot Singhraj Adhana bagged the silver to make it a sensational one-two finish for the country here on Saturday. The 19-year-old Narwal, who holds the world record in the category, shot a total of 218.2, a Paralympic record, to claim the yellow metal in P4 Mixed 50m Pistol SH1 event in his debut Games. “I’m very happy,” said Narwal who hails from Ballabhgarh in Haryana. In 2016, Narwal’s family took him to a nearby shooting range and he instantly developed a keen interest in the sport and started doing practice regularly. But at that time he did not know about Paralympic Games and he was practising and competing with other athletes for fun.
His talent was spotted by coach Jai Prakash Nautiyal and Narwal won an individual gold in P1 Air Pistol SH1 event in the 2017 Bangkok World Cup. The 39-year-old Adhana, who had won the bronze in the P1 men’s 10m air pistol SH1 event on Tuesday, added a silver to his kitty with an effort of 216.7 as India continued its medal rush in the sport. With his feat, Adhana joins the elite list of Indians who have won multiple medals in the same edition of the Games. “Every shot is very difficult. One shot is very important, so my coach every time says ‘Singhraj, Manish, only one shot, one shot fired’,” Adhana said of the final shoot-off between he and Narwal. “The final was very difficult today. I decided (when I was) in third position, Singhraj, good, please, stop, breathe, stop, OK. And one shot, only one shot, please. No other thought, my mind is slow. And go again.” On the trilby hat he wore during the final, Adana said, “My hat is a gift from my wife, so my very lucky hat.” Shooter Avani Lekhara, who won a gold and bronze in the ongoing Games and Joginder Singh Sodhi, who fetched one silver and two bronze medals in the 1984 Paralympics, are the other two Indians who have achieved the feat.
Russian Olympic Committee’s Sergey Malyshev took home the bronze with an effort of 196.8. Narwal, who has an impairment in his right hand, had a sluggish start and was in danger of being eliminated after shots of 7.7 and 8.3 but the teenager from Faridabad held his nerve. On the other hand, Adhana, who competes with polio-impaired lower limbs, was off to a flying start, leading the proceedings after 10 shots but slipped in the middle. However, both Indians upped their games when it mattered the most, edging out the challenge of two Chinese shooters and Sergey to go against each other for the gold medal. In the final series, Narwal, who took up shooting in 2016, shot 8.4 and 9.1 while Adana finished with 8.5 and 9.4. Earlier in the qualifying round, Adana progressed to the medal round in fourth place with a total of 536 while Narwal shot 533 to qualify at seventh at the Asaka Shooting Range.
The other Indian in the fray, Akash failed to make the final, finishing 27th in the qualifying round. Narwal has also won gold medal with world record in P4 and silver in P4 team event in 2021 Para Shooting World Cup in the UAE. Earlier, he had won gold medal in P1 and silver in P4 in 2018 Asian Para Games in Jakarta. He also won three bronze medals in P1 and P4 (individual and team) in 2019 Sydney Para Shooting World Championships. Indian shooters have claimed a haul of five medals, including two gold, in the ongoing Games. As the pistol is held with one hand only, athletes in SH1 category have an impairment affecting one arm and/or the legs, for example resulting from amputations or spinal cord injuries. P4 is a classification for the mixed 50m air pistol competition. Some shooters compete in a seated position, while others take aim in a standing position as defined in the rules.