Ace Indian shooter Jitu Rai shrugged off the disappointment of a poor Olympic campaign by clinching a silver medal in the 50m pistol event of the ISSF World Cup Final in Bologna on Thursday.
The 29-year-old notched up a total of 188.8 in the final, falling short of gold medal winner Wei Pang of China by just 1.8 points. Rai was struggling mid way through the finals round, as he fell behind Guiseppe Giordano (Italy), Zhiwei Wang (China), and Jindrich Dubovy (Czech Republic). In fact, the Indian shooter was 0.1 point away from elimination, with three more rounds to go.
However, Rai came right back into the contention to win a medal, shooting up 10.3, 9.4, and 9.5, 9.9 in the next two elimination rounds. He even managed to outscore gold medallist Pang in the final round. But Pang’s total score was a bit out of reach for the Indian and had to settle for a silver medal. Giordano walked away with the bronze medal on his home turf.
The 29-year-old's coach Pavel Smirnov came under a lot of criticism after the shooter's poor performance in the Rio Olympics, after Rai finished 10th in the final of the pistol event.
A four-member National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) committee, headed by 2008 Olympic gold medallist Abhinav Bindra, came out with a report on Wednesday, stating that Smirnov "did not have the expertise in the precision events to help Jitu Rai win an Olympic medal".
However, Bindra himself was one of the first to wish Rai, after the 29-year-old scripted a remarkable comeback to win the silver medal at the ISSF World Cup.
The Indian shooting legend also went on to state that Rai needs a definitive four-year-plan, in order to win a medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. India's sports minister Vijay Goel also took to Twitter to congratulate Jitu Rai.