Woman shooter Heena Sidhu created history by becoming the first pistol exponent from India to win a gold medal at the ISSF World Cup finals in Munich, Germany.
Heena won the gold medal on Sunday, beating double Olympic Champion Guo Wenjun from China, World champion Arunovic Zorana from Serbia and multiple Olympic medallist Olena Kostevych of Ukraine after stiff competition.
Anjali Bhagwat (2002) and Gagan Narang (2008) had earlier won gold medals in the ISSF World Cup in small bore rifle shooting, read a statement from the Maharashtra Rifle Association said.
The ISSF World Cup is held once a year and features only the top ten shooters of the world.
Heena shot 384 points in the qualification stage and was in third position behind Ukraine's Olena, but ahead of China's Guo, who was placed ninth, and Serb Zorana, who was placed sixth after the qualification stage.
The Indian shooter made a shaky start in the final. She shot a 9.3, followed by another 9.3 and slipped to eighth position after the first two shots.
But Heena picked up the gauntlet in right earnest and proceeded to execute 15 consecutive bulls eyes to end the competition with a huge lead of 5.2 points.
So high was her level of commitment and determination, that even after having reached the top position midway through the finals, she did not relax and kept increasing her lead.
Heena married Commonwealth Games gold medallist Ronak Pandit, son of Arjuna awardee Ashok, earlier this year and shifted base from Patiala to Mumbai. She was accompanied by her husband-cum-coach Ronak in Munich.
She qualified for the finals in the World Cup in Korea and Germany in April and May.
However, Heena had not still got her grip on the new format of the finals, introduced by the International Sports Shooting Federation (ISSF) on January 1 because of which she slipped from second to eighth position in both these matches.
She prepared for the event by training in Pune, under the guidance of her husband and coach Ronak and their foreign expert, Anatolii Piddubnyi.
Anatolii trains Heena with her technique and Ronak works with her match strategy and tactics to handle pressure under crunch situations.
Heena's world ranking, ninth before the competition, is bound to improve now.
Image:Annu Raj Singh and Heena Sidhu (right)
Photograph: Krishnendu Halder/Reuters