Hope to Maintain Momentum Till Rio Olympics, Says Jitu Rai

Jitu Rai, the first Indian shooter to win five international medals in a calendar year, won an Olympic quota place with a silver medal at the ongoing World Championships in Granada.

Updated: September 15, 2014 18:18 IST
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Jitu Rai and Gurpal Singh
File Photo: Jitu Rai (R) and Gurpal Singh celebrate after winning gold and silver medals respectively in the 50m Pistol event during the Commonwealth Games.


New Delhi: He has just become the first Indian shooter to win five international medals in a calendar year but Jitu Rai remains hungry for more and wants to achieve as many podium finishes as possible in the run-up to the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The 25-year-old Rai last week won an Olympic quota place with a silver medal at the ongoing World Championships in Granada, Spain, becoming the first Indian to do so.

"I have won the quota and a silver and I would really like to continue in same vein so that I can enter the Rio Olympics on a confident note. 2016 Olympic Games remains my ultimate target, so I do not want to relax one bit and will continue to work hard," Rai told PTI after his career's "biggest achievement".

While he harbours hopes of tasting success in Olympics, the Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO) in Indian Army also has his eyes trained on the upcoming Asian Games in Incheon.

"Asian Games is also a huge multi-sport extravaganza and I would like to do well there, win a medal and bring laurels to the country," he said a few hours before his departure for Incheon. Rai had come back from Spain on Saturday.

"The competition is going to be high but I am pretty confident of finishing on the podium and continue the momentum," he added.

Rai bagged the white metal in the men's 50-metre pistol event at the at the CEAR Juan Carlos I shooting range.

Talking about the moments before the event in Granada, Rai said he was upbeat after entering the finals.

"The qualifying rounds have many shooters from around the world, and all of them are good. But once I was in the final, I was confident of not just earning a quota but also a medal," he said.

In his pet event, the top-4 shooters earned Olympic quota places. The Army marksman narrowly missed out on the gold medal to South Korean double Olympic champion and world record holder, Jin Jingoh, in a closely contested final. Jin shot a total of 192.3 over 20 shots in the finals while Jitu finished with a score of 191.1.

Jitu, currently ranked fifth in the ISSF world rankings with a shooting average of 565, is having a dream year after having won the Commonwealth Games gold at Glasgow in July-August earlier this year. This is his fifth consecutive international medal in 2014.

He had won two back-to-back medals in the World Cup early this year.

Though Rai remains the lone Indian shooter to so far win a quota from the World Championships, he is optimistic about his fellow shooters.

"I am sure we will have more shooters winning quotas. After the World Championships, there are the World Cups and our shooters will definitely do well. Some of them missed out on quotas narrowly in Spain," Rai said.

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