Rahi Sarnobat on 22 August 2018 became the first Indian female shooter to win gold at the Asian Games, achieving the rare feat after nerve-wracking 25m air pistol finals.
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 Kohlapur-born shooter. The bronze went to South Korea’s Kim Minjung.
She 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, she became the second gold medalist from the Indian shooting contingent after 16-year-old Saurabh Chaudhary had shot gold in the 10m pistol finals on 21 August.
She is also the sixth Indian to shoot gold at the Games, joining Chaudhary, Jaspal Rana, Randhir Singh, Jitu Rai and Ronjan Sodhi. Her 34 points in the finals also ended up as a joint Games Record.
Ms. Sarnobat, who holds the record being India’s first pistol shooter to win gold in World Cup back in 2013, had suffered a serious elbow injury last year. Realizing that she needed a tweak in her technique, she roped in Munkhbayar Dorjsuren, a two-time world champion and Olympic medalist from Germany.
She is also a double gold medalist at the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games and had a bronze in the 25m pistol pair event at the 2014 Incheon Asian Games.