Asian Games 2023: Sift Kaur Samra, Med Student To World Record Holder

Sift Kaur Samra, formerly a medical student, has achieved a remarkable feat at the Asian Games. In the precision sport of shooting, where small differences matter greatly, Samra secured India’s first individual gold medal in Hangzhou with an outstanding performance in the 50m rifle 3 positions final. She outpaced the reigning world champion, Zhang Qiongyue of China, by an impressive 7.3 points and shattered the final world record by a substantial 2.6 points, having already set an Asian Games record during qualification.

Her dominance in the final was evident from the third series, as she never relinquished her lead and continuously increased the gap between her and her competitors. This achievement is particularly notable because the 50m rifle 3 positions event is one of the more demanding disciplines in shooting, requiring both physical and mental strength.

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Samra, at the age of 22, made the unconventional choice to pursue shooting over a career in medicine. She had already proven her mental prowess by passing the rigorous NEET medical entrance test and enrolling in GGS Medical College, Faridkot, before ultimately choosing the path of a shooter.

Balancing the demands of shooting and medicine, both of which require exceptional intelligence and focus, is no small feat. However, Samra’s appetite for challenges was evident in her performance at the Asian Games, where she seemed to have an exceptional ability to hit the bull’s eye target, surpassing her competitors by over 7 points in a highly competitive shooting final.

The 50m rifle 3 positions event is akin to long-distance running in shooting, as the target is situated at a greater distance than in other shooting disciplines, and shooters must contend with external factors like wind while adhering to strict time limits. Samra excelled in both qualification and the final, consistently performing at an impressive level.

She took the lead after the first kneeling series, maintaining a slim 0.1-point advantage over Zhang. By the end of the second prone series, she was 0.9 points ahead of her fellow Indian, Ashi Chouksey. As the competition progressed, she extended her lead, finishing with a significant 5-point advantage even before the single-shot eliminations began.

Samra’s strategy was clear: she relied on her strength in the standing position to secure an early lead in the competition, and her confidence paid off. Her score of 594 in all three positions during qualification showcased her consistency, even matching the perfect score in kneeling and prone by China’s Xia Siyu. This extraordinary achievement culminated in a gold medal at the Asian Games, a memorable moment in the world of shooting.

Samra’s journey in shooting began unexpectedly after a casual visit to a shooting range in Punjab. Her talent quickly became apparent, leading her to excel at the national and junior international levels. She won multiple medals at the Junior World Cup and a gold medal at the National Games. Her breakthrough on the global stage came with a bronze at the ISSF World Cup earlier in the year and a gold at the FISU World University Games in August. Her fifth-place finish at the World Championship secured an Olympic quota for India.

In summary, Sift Kaur Samra’s achievement as an Asian Games champion in the 50m rifle 3 positions event is a testament to her exceptional skill and dedication to shooting, marking a remarkable journey from a medical student to a world-record gold medalist. Her success in this challenging sport will be remembered for years to come.

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