When 18-year-old Rudrankksh Patil defeated Arjun Babuta for the National Games gold two weeks ago, he was in disbelief having outplayed the World Cup gold medallist in the final. On Friday, the Thane teen clinched gold in the men’s 10m air rifle at the ISSF World Championships in Cairo. In the process, Rudrankksh became only the second Indian world champion in the 10m air rifle category after Abhinav Bindra, who won gold in 2006.
Rudrankksh is overall the sixth world champion shooter from India. Among them, only Bindra went on to win an Olympics medal. Rudrankksh’s gold has also resulted in him winning a quota for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Rudrankksh, lovingly known as Sai at home, is the eldest child of Balasaheb Patil, SP Palghar. His mother, Hemangini, is a regional transport officer at Vashi in Navi Mumbai. With that kind of background, rigour and discipline are qualities that have been imbibed well.

During meets, Hemangini monitors his diet and keeps an eye on his practice schedules. On Friday, he defeated Italy’s Danilo Dennis Sollazzo 17-13 in the final of 10m air rifle competition of World Championships in Cairo.
In the ranking round, he left behind former world champ and Tokyo bronze medallist from China, Yang Haoran, and Tokyo silver medallist Lihao Sheng. Tokyo gold medallist William Shaner of USA couldn’t make it to the top 8.
Rudrankksh qualified for the top-8 after shooting 633.9, a World Championships record. As per the new rules, the international shooting body ISSF has done away with world records. They now have venues, World Championships and Olympics records instead.
It took almost 10 minutes for Rudrankksh to realise what his achievement meant.

“It took time to sink in. I was so involved in the match that it took me almost 5-10 minutes to feel some emotion,” the junior World Championships silver medallist told TOI from Cairo.
He admitted that he was under pressure because of the big names in the field, but he trusted his process.
“The names can put you under pressure, but I focused on my match and didn’t think much about it.”
Rudrankksh opened his senior medal count at the world level directly with a world championships gold.
“I had been preparing for this medal. I have been working with my coach in Thane and at the camp. We have a very good team of coaches, physios and trainers who helped me win today,” he said.


Rudrankksh, who started shooting in 2015, has been training at a range that was closed for many years.
“He lives in Thane and there was no range close to his home. He went to the school run by People’s Education Society Trust in Thane and requested the management to allow him to use the range. It was a humble range with manual targets. Rudrankksh installed an electronic target and started his training there in 2018,” said his coach Ajit Patil, who has now produced three world champions, including junior 10m air rifle world champ Navnath Fartade and senior 50m rifle prone champion Tejaswini Sawant.
Patil said Rudrankksh’s quest to achieve high scores using modest facilities has made him a good shooter.
“He doesn’t fancy anything. But he fights with himself when he doesn’t get good scores. He has been working really hard to go beyond 633 in the qualifications and I am sure he must be very happy today,” Patil said.

Another Indian in the top-8, Kiran Jadhav couldn’t make it to the medal round after getting eliminated at the eighth place. Babuta finished 48th with a score of 625.3 in qualifications.
Meanwhile, in the women’s 10m air rifle event, Indian shooters failed to enter the ranking round. Mehuli Ghosh was the best among the three Indians as she finished 10th with the score of 629.7, while Meghana Sajjanar scored 629.2 for 13th place. Elavenil Valarivan finished the qualification round with a 19th-place finish after scoring 628.7.


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By Dipak

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