Indian shooters got off to a poor start at the Tokyo Olympics as first-timers Elavenil Valarivan and Apurvi Chandela failed to qualify for the final of the women’s 10m air rifle event in Tokyo on Saturday.
Making her Olympic debut, Valarivan finished 16th after shooting 626.5 in her 60 shots, consisting of six series of 10 shots each, while the more experienced Chandela ended up in 36th place after aggregating 621.9 at the Asaka Shooting Range.
The Indians began fairly well, and although Chandela slipped after that, the 21-year-old Valarivan tried to remain in the contest with a fine performance in the third series, including shooting a perfect 10.9 to end the series. However, Valarivan could not maintain the same form, and a couple of 9s down the crucial final stretch, in the fifth and sixth series, pushed her further down.
Chandela, who had finished 34th at the 2016 Rio Olympics, slid down the field after shooting a couple of 9s in her second series. Although she consistently shot an average of around 10.4 afterward, she had a lot of ground to cover in order to claw her way back up a tight, competitive field. For context, Valarivan’s total of 626.5 was two points short of the total shot by Russian Olympic Committee’s Anastasiia Galashina, who took the eighth and last spot in the final. Chandela shot four 9s across her final two series, which ensure she dropped further down the field.
Norway’s Jeanette Hegg Duestad was the standout performer in qualification, topping the event with a Qualification Olympic Record score of 632.9. At one point, Duestad looked on course to break the Qualification World Record of 634.0 set by China’s Zhao Ruozhu at the 2019 New Delhi World Cup, but scores of 10.2, 10.2, and 10.3 in her final five shots meant she just missed out on the second record. South Korea’s Heemoon Park finished second with 631.7, while American challenger Mary Carolyn Tucker finished third with 631.4.
Saurabh Chaudhary and Abhishek Verma feature in the men’s 10m air pistol qualification later on Saturday.