Granada (Spain): Lucknow boy Jitu Rai on Tuesday became the first Indian shooter to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics after bagging a quota place with an impressive silver medal-finish at the 51st Shooting World Championships, here.
Rai bagged the white metal in men's 50-metre pistol event at the at the CEAR Juan Carlos I shooting range.
The 25-year-old Army marksman narrowly missed out on the gold medal to South Korean double Olympic champion and world record holder, Jin Jingoh, in a closely contested final. Jin shot a total of 192.3 over 20 shots in the finals while Jitu finished with a score of 191.1.
Pang Wei of China, also an Olympic champion, finished third to settle for the bronze, while Hoang Xuan Vinh came in fourth to bag the last Olympic quota on offer.
Jitu, currently ranked fifth in the ISSF world rankings, is having a dream year after having won the Commonwealth Games gold medal at Glasgow in July-August earlier this year. This is his fifth consecutive international medal in 2014.
He had won two back-to-back medals in the World Cup early this year, but this is undoubtedly the biggest feat he has achieved in his career so far.
Expressing satisfaction over Rai's performance, Raninder Singh, president of the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI), said, "It's an extremely proud moment for us to see Jitu Rai become the first Indian athlete in all Olympic events to qualify for the Rio Olympics.
"We were all very confident about the way Jitu has been shooting and he has repaid our faith in an emphatic manner. We hope that this is the beginning of many more such successes in the coming days."
Ayonika Paul stormed into the final of the women's 10m air rifle event. Ayonika, the Commonwealth Games Silver medallist, shot a score of 620.8 to qualify in first place for the final.
There are six Olympic Quota places on offer in the women's air rifle in the World Championships.
Commonwealth Games silver medallist Gurpal Singh, however, shot 550/600 to finish 33rd while Om Prakash shot 548/600 to finish in 38th place in the men's 50m pistol event.
2006 world champion Manavjit Singh Sandhu continued his excellent start to the competition with two perfect rounds of 25 each. Manavjit has shot 100/100 in his four qualifying rounds.