Anish Bhanwala, a boy aged 15, trumped the men standing in his way to become India’s youngest-ever gold medallist at the Commonwealth Games after Tejaswini Sawant added another yellow metal to her decorated CWG resume, here today. In a sensational CWG debut, Anish shot a Games record score of 30 to claim the top prize in the men’s 25m rapid fire pistol event. The 37-year-old Tejaswini claimed the top prize by shattering the Games record in women’s 50m rifle 3 positions event while putting in the shade compatriot and silver winner Anjum Moudgil’s remarkable resilience. In the women’s trap, Shreyasi Singh reached her second final of the ongoing Games, two days after winning the double trap gold, but could only manage a fifth place finish this time around.
Anish entered the six-man final having topped the second stage of qualification with a total score of 580 that had 22 central bulls. The youngest in the field, he showed nerves of steel and led the more experienced shooters through the event to emerge a deserving champion. Australia’s Sergei Evglevski claimed the silver with 28 while the bronze medal went to Sam Gowin (17) of England. India’s other entrant in the event, Neeraj Kumar (13) was the second shooter to be eliminated in the finals after a shoot-off. By winning the gold, Anish bettered team-mate 16-year-old Manu Bhaker, who had become the youngest Indian Commonwealth Games gold medallist earlier this week when she emerged champion in the 10m air rifle finals.
Tweets congratulating him:
Elated to see #AnishBhanwala become India’s youngest Gold Medalist ????in CWG. All of 15 years, Anish has earned laurels for the country ???????? in the men’s 25m rapid fire pistol. What an Achievement! ????
— Randeep Singh Surjewala (@rssurjewala) April 13, 2018
India is really coming through. #AnishBhanwala at just 15 years of age wins a Gold in 25 m rapid pistol.
Also congratulations to#TejaswiniSawant for the GOLD ???? & #AnjumMoudgil for the SILVER????in Women’s 50m Rifle 3 Positions event.
— Abhishek Singhvi (@DrAMSinghvi) April 13, 2018
Congratulations to shooter #AnishBhanwala for winning the men's 25m rapid fire pistol event & becoming India's youngest gold medal winner at the Commonwealth Games. You've made us all mighty proud! #CWG2018 pic.twitter.com/RyvM1JrnqO
Tejaswini held the lead from the first shot in the finals and broke the CWG record with 457.9. She scored 152.4 in kneeling and 157.1 in prone positions before the eight finalists entered the elimination stage. The previous record of 449.1 was set by Jasmine Ser Xiang Wei of Singapore at the Glasgow Games in 2014. Moudgil, 24, had led the qualification with a Games record herself and carried the form into the final where she shot 455.7, holding the second position with scores of 151.9 in kneeling and 157.1 in prone.
Scotland’s Seonaid Mcintosh won bronze 444.6. This was an improvement on the silver Tejaswini won in the 50m rifle prone yesterday. This is the seventh CWG medal for Tejaswini, following two golds in 2006, a pair of silvers and a bronze in 2010 and a silver in women’s 50m rifle prone in the ongoing edition. For Arjuna awardee Tejaswini, who in 2010 became the first Indian to win gold at the Shooting World Championship, her two podium finishes in successive days here will somewhat make up for the disappointing showing at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
In the qualification, Moudgil had shattered the CWG Qualifying record by a significant margin. Her 589 (196 in kneeling, 199 in prone and 194 in standing) ensures she finished at the top in qualifying. Facing stiff competition from Australian shooter Evglevski, Anish held his nerve and kept his focus through eight rounds to emerge on top. Anish started with two possible fives, racing to a three-point margin. He stumbled with a three and a one before scoring another five to lead by four points over Evglevski.
In the gold-medal round, with just a one-point margin, Anish, who won the silver at the Commonwealth Shooting Championships last November at Belmont, displayed his skill with a maximum of an unbeatable 30 points. Evglevski shot a valiant four to claim his first Commonwealth medal and join his mother, 10-time Commonwealth medallist Lalita Yauhleuskaya in the history books. In the Qualifications, Anish scored 580 to finish top of the tally while Neeraj was second best with 579. Anish scored 286 in stage 1 and 294 in stage 2 qualifying, while Neeraj had 291 in stage 1 and 288 in stage 2. So talented is the shooter that the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), in an unprecedented first, had agreed to reschedule three papers of his class X exams to help him avoid a clash between studies and competitive sports.
Today’s achievement was not lost on Anish. On becoming the youngest athlete in the Indian team, he said, “I’m very excited that I became the Commonwealth champion. I am the youngest athlete from India to win Commonwealth gold at 15.” The rising shooter recently won a gold medal at the ISSF Junior World Cup in Sydney where he finished atop the podium in the same event.
Last year, the teenager made heads turn when he won the 25m standard pistol gold with a world record score of 579 at the ISSF Junior World Championships, followed by silver in the 25m sport pistol at the same event and another silver at the Commonwealth Shooting Championships in Brisbane. The same year, he also outperformed 2012 Olympic silver medallist Vijay Kumar to win gold medals at the Kumar Surendra Singh Memorial Championship and again at the 61st National Shooting Championship.