Sunday 23 October 2016

Gold Count Goes Down But Indian Shooters Dominate CWG

Philem Dipak Singh, Glasgow
File - PTI Photo/ Manvender Vashist

The gold medals were hard to come by this time but Indian shooters were nonetheless mostly on target as they reaped a rich harvest of 17 medals in the Commonwealth Games with the surprising exception of Olympic silver-medalist Vijay Kumar and the seasoned Heena Sidhu.

Indians were hit hard at this edition of Commonwealth Games as the pair events, in which the country had won 18 medals last time, were dropped in Glasgow 2014.

This time, India managed just four gold with Vijay and the experienced Heena Sidhu crashing out in the qualification stage and another Olympic medallist Gagan Narang failing to grab a yellow metal.

Narang settled for a bronze in men's 50m rifle 3 positions in which he had won gold in both 2006 and 2010 Commonwealth Games. He, however, had a decent show by winning a silver -- his first CWG medal in the 50m rifle prone event.

Narang failed to join Michael Gault of England and Jaspal Rana of India to have won nine gold medals in the Commonwealth Games history. He has won four gold each in the 2006 and 2010 Games.

"I am not disappointed at all for not winning a gold here. I won a silver in a new event, the best by an Indian in the Games. I have enough time left with me to break the record," he said.

Vijay was the worst performer of all the Indian shooters and he made a quiet exit from the Games after failing to qualify for the final round in men's 25m rapid fire pistol event.

The 2012 London Olympics silver-medallist finished seventh in the qualifying round to make a shock exit. Harpreet Singh though made up for Vijay's failure as he won a silver in the event via two rounds of nerve-wrecking shoot-off and brushing aside a penalty point docked for an 'out of time' shot.

Considered one of the brightest gold medal hope in Glasgow Games, Heena was another flop show as she finished a disappointing seventh in women's 10m pistol event finals.

World number one till a few months ago, Heena scripted history by becoming the first pistol shooter from India to win a gold medal at the ISSF World Cup finals in Munich, Germany, last November.

It was, however, brilliant stuff from 2008 Beijing Olympics gold medallist Abhinav Bindra who hardly broke a sweat while winning his pet event of 10m air rifle in his last Commonwealth Games.

In the final, he jumped to the top spot after the third series and then went on to accumulate points to run away with the gold.

He beat Abdullah Baki of Bangladesh by 3.2 points in the end to bag his elusive singles gold. Before the Glasgow Games, Bindra had won eight medals, including three gold, but all in pairs events.

A normally reserved Bindra, the lone individual Olympic gold medallist Indian, was even jovial after his gold winning feat, joking he would become a journalist after his retirement from shooting.

Fresh from a gold and a silver in the recent World Cup in South Korea, Jitu Rai also made a mark in his first Commonwealth Games with a flawless and easy win in the men's 50m pistol event.

The 26-year-old Armyman from 11 Gorkha Regiment led the final round all through and grabbed the gold with a lead of 6.9 points over silver winner Indian Gurpal Singh. A supremely confident Rai said he knew that the gold medal was for his taking.

"I knew before coming here that I would win the gold. Since I have done well in the World Cup, I was sure that I will win my first gold in the Commonwealth Games," he said.

While the likes of Vijay failed, greenhorn Apurvi Chandela and another youngster Rahi Sarnobat bagged a gold each to boost Indian medal tally.

The 21-year-old Rajasthan, Apurvi, shot to glory by claiming an unexpected gold in the second year of her senior career and her first major title.

India finished one-two with Ayonika Paul bagging the silver. Apurvi, who qualified fourth to the finals, held onto her nerves to zip past her compatriot Ayonika who had to settle for a silver medal.

It was an all-Indian affair in the women's 25m pistol event also as Rahi beat Anisa Sayyed in the gold-medal match 8-2. Rahi, 23, had lost to Anisa in the gold medal match at Delhi 2010 four years ago.

Prakash Nanjappa also got a silver in the 10m Air Pistol event, after narrowly missing out on the yellow metal due to a lapse of concentration.

Nanjappa paid the price for a horrendous shot midway into the final round as he lost concentration and shot a disappointing 7.7 to hand the lead to eventual winner Daniel Repacholi of Australia.

India had also expected better results from shotgun shooters Manavjit Singh and Mansher Singh in men's trap event but the veteran duo were among those who did not live upto the high standards which can be expected from them.

Manavjit managed to salvage some pride by winning a bronze while Mansher fell out of medal bracket. There were surprise silver medals from 16-year-old Malaika Goel in women's 1om air rifle and Gurpal Singh in men's 50m pistol.

The other medal winners are Sanjeev Rajput (silver in men's 50m rifle 3 positions), Shreyasi Singh (silver in women's double trap), Lajja Gauswami (bronze in women's 50m rifle 3 positions) and Mohd Asab (bronze in men's double trap).

India won the highest number of medals from the Barry Buddon Shooting Center but lagged behind Australia (6, 0, 2) and England (5, 2, 8) in gold medal count.

The lack of gold from shooting -- just four this time -- may hit India hard in the final medal tally -- thereby in the overall standing -- as at least half a dozen were expected from shooting.

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