Sift Kaur Samra clinches historic Asian Games Gold in Shooting, sets World Record
Sift Kaur Samra, a budding Indian shooter who once considered quitting for medical studies, achieves an unprecedented feat by securing an Asian Games gold medal in Women’s 50m Rifle 3-Positions and setting a new World Record.
Just a year ago, Sift Kaur Samra faced a critical decision between her shooting aspirations and pursuing an MBBS degree. Juggling both seemed insurmountable. However, fate had other plans. Sift Kaur’s journey took a remarkable turn when, at the National Shooting Championships in Bhopal, she not only gave her sport another chance but also set a national record.
Fast forward to Wednesday, and Sift Kaur Samra etched her name in history by securing India’s first-ever Asian Games gold medal in rifle shooting, an achievement unparalleled by both male and female shooters. Her remarkable feat came in the Women’s 50m Rifle 3-Positions event, and she did so in record-breaking fashion.
The 22-year-old shooter, who had to repeat her first year of MBBS due to her commitment to shooting, delivered an awe-inspiring performance at the Fuyang Yinhu Sports Centre. She posted an extraordinary score of 469.6, thereby establishing a new World Record. This accomplishment not only secured the gold but also set new Asian Games and Asian Records. The Women’s 50m Rifle 3-Positions event is regarded as one of the most challenging shooting disciplines, as it assesses a shooter’s skills in kneeling, prone, and standing positions.
Sift Kaur surpassed the previous world record of 467.0 held by Seonaid McIntosh of Great Britain, achieved at the ISSF World Cup in Baku just a few months earlier. She comfortably outperformed her Chinese counterpart, Qiongyue Zhang (462.3), and fellow Indian Ashi Choksey (451.9), securing a well-deserved place on top of the podium. It was an opportunity for an Indian one-two finish, but a late stumble by Ashi Chouksey during her final attempt cost her the silver medal, allowing her Chinese opponent to take second place.
This historic achievement marks the first gold medal by an Indian rifle shooter, regardless of gender, in the Asian Games since the sport’s introduction in 1962. Among India’s nine previous gold medals in the Asian Games, eight were in pistol events, with one in shotgun (trap). Sift Kaur’s victory in the Women’s 50m Rifle 3-Positions competition will be remembered as a pioneering moment for Indian rifle shooting.
Reflecting on her remarkable success, Sift Kaur expressed her gratitude, stating, “It feels very good. It’s a very limited and precious opportunity, and I feel blessed to be part of it.”
Earlier in the competition, Sift Kaur, alongside teammate Ashi Chouksey and Manini Kaushik, secured a silver medal in the Women’s 50m Rifle 3-Positions Team event.
“Shooting is very unpredictable; one day you’re at the top, and the next day, your performance may falter,” commented Sift Kaur, reflecting on the team’s second-place finish.
In the Team event, Sift Kaur had earned a silver medal, with Ashi Chouksey and Manini Kaushik also contributing to the achievement.
“The key is to concentrate on our techniques, processes, and self-improvement, rather than making comparisons with other teams. It’s about focusing on our progress and competing against ourselves,” she added.
This young shooter, who had previously secured her first senior medal—a bronze at the ISSF World Cup 2023 in Bhopal—performed exceptionally well in the final, setting a new world record. In the kneeling position, she scored 154.6, the highest among all finalists. In the prone position, Sift Kaur amassed a total of 158, resulting in a final score of 312.6, securing her lead from start to finish.
Despite her teammate Ashi Chouksey briefly moving into second place before the final shot, a disappointing score of 8.9 meant that she could not overtake the Chinese competitor, ultimately earning her a bronze medal.
“The last shot was heartbreaking for me. I just missed the timing. Initially, when I took aim, I couldn’t lock onto the target. I took a pause, and that’s when I lost my timing. When I tried again, there was less time left. Shooting under time pressure is challenging, especially on the first and last shots when your heart is racing. It’s part and parcel of life, and I will learn from this for my next match,” shared Ashi following the final.