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ALSO READ: Pistol sensation Anish Bhanwala is TOISA Emerging Player of the Year
In a sensational CWG debut at the Belmont Shooting Centre, the teenage pistol sensation – who this year was awarded Emerging Player of the Year at the Times of India Sports Awards (TOISA) – entered the six-man men’s 25pm rapid fire pistol finals having topped the second stage of qualification with a total score of 580-22x, and then shot a Games record score of 30 to win the finals and become the youngest Indian gold medallist at the CWG.
ALSO READ: Young Anish Bhanwala makes it to five senior teams
Facing stiff competition from 20-year-old Australian shooter Sergei Evglevski and 28-year-old Sam Gowin of England, young Anish held his nerve and kept his focus through eight rounds to emerge on top. With a total of 28, Evglevski took silver and Gowin bronze with 17.
Having slipped as the finals progressed, the other Indian shooter in the finals, Neeraj Kumar, was left to shoot off with Gowin for fourth place and was eliminated with a total score of 15 behind Gowan (15). Neeraj finished second during stage two of qualification with 579-14x.
A day earlier, during stage one of the men’s 25pm rapid fire pistol qualifications, Neeraj had emerged on top with a total score of 297-7x followed by Bhanwala at third with 286-11x.
A stunning gold medal on CWG debut, by far the biggest competition of his fledgling international career, has enhanced Bhanwala’s status as the best young Indian shooting talent multifold. In 2017, the teenager made heads turn when he won the 25m standard pistol gold with a world record score of 579 at the ISSF Junior World Championships Rifle/Pistol, followed by silver in the 25m sport pistol at the same event and another silver at the Commonwealth Shooting Championships in Brisbane. Last year, Anish also upstaged 2012 Olympic silver medallist Vijay Kumar to win gold at the Kumar Surendra Singh Memorial Championship and again at the 61st National Shooting Championship where he won gold.