Anjali celebrates after winning the gold medal.Talk of comebacks and Saturday saw one that would bring a smile to any sports lover’s face. India’s acclaimed rifle shooter Anjali Bhagwat clinched the gold medal in the women’s 50m rifle 3 positions event at the 54th National Shooting Championships here, stamping her authority on her first competition since the Beijing Olympics in 2008.A three-time Olympian and the 2003 World Cup Finals gold medallist in air rifle, Anjali had competed in the rifle prone event at the Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range on Friday but hadn’t made it to the podium. Heading into the final on Saturday, though, Anjali was level on points with eventual silver medallist Lajjakumari Gauswami of Gujarat on 576 points. Madhya Pradesh’s Rajkumari Rathore, who had won the prone on Friday, was leading with 577 points, while prone world champion Tejaswini Sawant was also lurking.But in the final, Rajkumari went hurtling down the leaderboard, leaving Maharashtra’s Anjali and Lajja to fight it out for top spot. Anjali, 41, scored 10.3 and 10.8 on her first two shots to take the lead, with Lajja fighting back on the third and fourth shots (10.9 and 10.1 respectively) to stay level. However, Anjali shot nines on her sixth and seventh shots to go 1.3 points adrift of Lajja.Then came the game-changing moment where Lajja aborted three times and then, with the time-limit approaching, could only manage 7.1.Anjali, on the other hand, shot 10s all the way through to take top spot with a total score of 675.7, shooting 99.7 in the final. Lajja ended with 673.1 while Tejaswini, also of Maharashtra, took the bronze with 670.4.advertisementA beaming Anjali later said she had been fighting a migraine problem all night. “I wasn’t 100 per cent fit, to be honest, but I guess as soon as I picked up the weapon, everything became alright. I have had only four sessions of training coming into the nationals, so it feels great,” she told reporters.In the period between the Olympics and now, Anjali has given birth to her first child, a boy, who she had brought to the range.The other comeback story of the day was Jaspal Rana making it to the final of the rapid fire pistol competition. Rana, who has taken up rapid fire for the first time in his storied career with an eye on the Olympics, shot a total of 570 over two stages to make it through to the final, along with Commonwealth Games champion Vijay Kumar (576) and fellow armymen Pemba Tamang (571) and Gurpreet Singh (568), among others.The new format of the final nullifies the qualification scores and thus all shooters started from scratch. Only a shot above 9.7 gives a shooter one point.In this format, after the first four series, the lowest-scoring shooter is eliminated after each series and Rana was the first to be eliminated after series of 2, 4, 1 and 1.Eventually, Vijay showed remarkable consistency to register 32 out of 40 points, with Gurpreet taking silver with 26 and Pemba bronze with 20 (out of 35) to give army a clean sweep.In the men’s 10m air rifle, army marksman Imran Hassan Khan was the surprise winner with a total of 696.8 (596+100.8) points, outgunning heavyweights like Gagan Narang and Olympic champion Abhinav Bindra.Air India’s Narang, who qualified with 594 points, won a tie-shoot for silver with 10.3 points against Satyendra Singh of the army, who shot 9.9. Both had ended up with 695.5 points. Bindra also lost a tieshoot against navy’s Sanjeev Rajput for fifth place.SANDHU & MANSHER ON TOPIn the men’s trap trial for the national team being held simultaneously, national champion Manavjit Singh Sandhu and Mansher Singh topped the scoresheet with 121 points, with Prithviraj Thondaiman scoring 115 and junior champion Kynan Chenai registering 114. In skeet, Allan Daniel Peoples led the way with 123 points.