Lakshay, Deepak impress with elusive trap, 10m air rifle silvers

Deepak Kumar shows the silver medal he won in the 10m air rifle event at the Asian Games on Monday. AP Photo/Vincent Thian

Lakshay Sheoran and Deepak Kumar won silver medals in the men's trap and 10m air rifle event respectively, at the Asian Games -- two rare shooting medals for India at this level -- in Palembang on Monday.

With this win, Lakshay became the third Indian after Karni Singh (1974) and Manavjit Singh Sandhu (2006) to win the men's trap silver at the Asian Games.

The 20-year old shot 43 points to secure a silver medal in the Trap men event. Sandhu, the other Indian in the fray, scored 26 to finish fourth.

In the qualification round spanning two days, 41-year-old Sandhu finished first, scoring 119 points while Lakshay finished fourth, with the same total. Manavjit had edged ahead during the shoot-off, helping him close the qualifiers on top.

In the final with four contenders left, Manavjit tied with Korea's Ahn Daemyeong till the second last shot of the five-shot eliminators, where he ultimately missed the target to finish fourth. Lakshay, in his maiden outing at the Asian Games, displayed immense control and composure to produce a perfect 5/5 when only the top three contenders were left to assurere himself of a silver. Chinese Taipei's Yang Kunpi -- who eventually won gold -- however, was already four shots ahead of him by that time -- a gap that became too much for Lakshay to cover.

Deepak shot a score of 247.7 to clinch the second position in the 10m air rifle, while Ravi Kumar, the other Indian in the fray, finished fourth with a score of 205.2. China's Yang Haoran won gold with a score of 249.1, a Games record, while Lu Shaochuan of Chinese Taipei won bronze with 226.8 points.

What made Lakshay and Deepak's achievement remarkable is that individual medals in the Asian Games are not very common for Indian shooters. The standard of competition is far higher than in the Commonwealth Games, where India return with a bucketful of medals.

Before Jakarta-Palembang 2018, in the last 20 years across four Asian Games, India have won 15 individual medals (four golds, three silvers and eight bronzes). It is usually at the Asian Games team events in shooting where India has added to the medal count, winning 20 medals (one gold, 10 silvers and nine bronzes). In fact, even India's first individual Olympic silver and gold medallists, Rajyavardhan Rathore and Abhinav Bindra, ended their careers as individual bronze medallists at the Asian Games.

Tied in the fourth position with Korea's Song Soojoo at one stage, Deepak was on the verge of being eliminated. But he then shot a perfect 10.9 to move to the third position. Soon after, he shot 10.8 when pitted against Shaochuan, to assure himself of at least a silver.

Ravi and Deepak had earlier qualified for the finals after finishing fourth and fifth respectively, with scores of 626.7 and 626.3. Yang topped the qualifiers, equalling the Asian qualification record by scoring 632.9.

Deepak has performed consistently this year, making the finals at the Commonwealth Games (finishing fifth) and the Guadalajara World Cup in Mexico (finishing fourth). He had shot an impressive 627.2 in the CWG qualification round, where he set a Games record.

On Sunday, Ravi had teamed with Apurvi Chandela to win India's opening medal at the Games -- a bronze in the 10m air rifle mixed team event.