The world record set by Heena Sidhu-Pandit, who became the first Indian pistol shooter to bag an ISSF-World Cup Finals gold last November, has been ratified by the world shooting body.
Heena shot a score of 384 in the preliminaries and a high tally of 203.8 in the final round in that event.
The ISSF, which had made major changes in the rules to make the sport spectator-friendly, have considered them to be positive and should be continued with and consequently the scores by Heena, then considered provisional, have now been officially accepted as a record, said a media release issued by the Maharashtra Rifle Association today.
To add to this historic first by an Indian shooter, Heena has climbed a place in the world rankings and is now second on the list.
The performance has also brought the shooter on the cover-page of the ISSF news magazine, yet another first for Indian shooting.
Heena had shot her way to glory by defeating three top ranked shooters in the world -- Guo Wenjun (China), who had won two consecutive Olympic gold medals in Beijing (2008) and London (2012), defending champion Arunova Zorana (Serbia), and Olene Kosteyvech (Ukraine), a gold and bronze medallist at the Athens (2004) and London (2012) Olympic Games.
This trio finished behind Heena who, after a slightly hesitant start, went on to shoot 15 consecutive bulls eye.
This enabled the Indian a win by 5.2 points, perhaps the biggest margin of victory at this level of competition.
Having won a gold at the World Cup Finals, a year earlier than her intended plans, the shooter has changed her base to Pune from Patiala after getting married to another international shooter Ronak Pandit.
Heena is now working with a team of three coaches led by husband Ronak and supported by Anatoly Piddubnyi (Ukraine), the erstwhile chief coach of the USSR in the 1980s, and sports scientist Dr Pierre Beauchamp form Canada.
An upbeat Ronak is of the opinion that the team has succeeded in finding "the right formula which will help her to find the right balance in fine tuning her skills and technique besides making her tough physically as well as mentally."
Heena has a heavy schedule this year -- the Commonwealth Games, the Asian Games and the World Championships followed by the ISSF World Cup finals in the run up to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
She is set to resume training at Balewadi-Pune from February 17 before her departure for the Asian Air Gun Championships in Kuwait followed by the ISSF World Cup 1 in March, the release added.
Image: Heena Sidhu
Photograph: Krishnendu Halder/Reuters