There was another big news coming from the shooting squad as India’s legendary rifle marksman Abhinav Bindra capped off a glittering career with two bronze medals in men’s 10m air rifle.
50m pistol gold
Jitu Rai had arrived in Incheon in sensational form after setting an unprecedented record of winning 5 international shooting medals in a single calendar year. And the good form continued.
The Commonwealth Games gold medallist plummeted to the sixth place in the men’s 50m pistol final but he roared back into form when it mattered the most. In a nerve-wracking final he was tied with Hoang Phuong Nguyen of Vietnam for the first place but a brilliant shoot off performance saw him edge ahead. Rai accumulated 186.2 points while Phuong ended up with 183.4.
10m air pistol team bronze
Jitu Rai failed to add another individual medal in his pet event – 10m air pistol. But he contributed in the team event. The trio featuring Jitu Rai, Samaresh Jung and Prakash Nanjappa finished third in men’s 10m air pistol.
India could have bettered the colour of the medal as they were tied with China for the second place with both at 1743 points. But China pipped them to the post when the number of Xs were counted. The gold went to South Korea who finished with a total of 1744 points.
It was a commendable effort from Samresh Jung who conquered visa problems, delayed arrival and lack of proper sleep to make a come back into the winner’s circle.
25m centre fire pistol team silver
The Indian trio comprising London Olympic Games silver medallist Vijay Kumar, Pemba Tamang and Gurpreet Singh clinched the second place in 25m centre fire pistol competition with a total score of 1740. China won the gold with a score of 1742 while South Korea took the bronze with 1739 points.
The medal is a reminder of Vijay Kumar’s self-belief and courage as he had been struggling since the London Games with a cervical spondylosis. A condition for which Vijay Kumar had to undergo surgery soon after the Olympics, had affected his performances and even denied him a place in his pet event – the 25m rapid fire pistol. So this medal definitely proves again that champions do rise even above the most adverse situations.
10m air rifle individual and team bronze
India’s most successful shooter, Abhinav Bindra capped off a stellar career with a bronze in the men’s 10m air rifle. Bindra also teamed up with Sanjeev Rajput and Ravi Kumar to deliver the team bronze.
The Olympic gold medallist had created quite a stir with his tweets announcing the end of his professional career even though he still had an eye on Rio Olympics.
Clarifying later, Abhinav said that after training with the same intensity for 20 years, he was now looking forward to being a hobby shooter. He still did not rule our Rio yet and will decide on it later depending on his performance levels.
50m Rifle 3 position bronze
Shooting yielded a bronze medal in 50m Rifle 3 Positions Men’s Finals though it was surprising to see Chain Singh on the podium ahead of his more fancied compatriots, Gagan Narang and Sanjeev Rajput. Nevertheless it was a great effort from Chain who bagged a total of 441.7 points. The gold and silver went to Cao Yifei and Zhu Qinan of China who shot 455.5 and 455.2 points respectively.
10m air pistol bronze
Shweta Chaudhry outclassed her much fancied compatriots, former World No. 1 Heena Sidhu and Commonwealth Games silver medallist Malaika Goel to end up fourth in the qualifying round of 10m air pistol with a score of 383.
She shot a total of 176.4 in the final to take the bronze after climbing up from the sixth place. It was a splendid achievement given the ordeal she had to go through before the event.
25m air pistol team bronze
The trio of Rahi Sarnobat, Anisa Sayyed and Heena Sidhu clinched the bronze in 25m air pistol. Rahi was the best of the trio with a score of 580. Anisa garnered 577 while Heena managed 572 to finish with a total of 1,729 points. In the individual category Rahi finished seventh.
Women’s double trap
The team consisting of Shagun Chowdhary, Shreyasi Singh and Varsha Varman bagged the bronze. Chowdhary was the best of the trio scoring 96 while Shreyasi had 94 and Varman had 89. The Indian team with an aggregate of 279, finished behind China and South Korea who had scored 315 and 314 respectively.
Some of our high profile shooters didn’t have a fruitful stint at the Asian Games. Their failure robbed us of the chance to add maybe a couple more medals.
India had strong chances to scoop up medals in the men’s 50m rifle prone event but the trio of Joydeep Karmakar, Gagan Narang and Hariom Singh narrowly missed the bronze.
Gurpreet Singh looked a strong contender for a medal in the men’s 25m standard pistol event. But eventually it turned out to be a case of near-miss once again as Gurpreet Singh squandered a wonderful opportunity to ultimately finish outside the medal bracket.
Ronjan Sodhi had delivered a gold in men’s double trap in Guangzhou but our trap shooters came a cropper this time. The trap shooting trio of Mansher Singh, Manavjit Singh Sandhu and Kynan Chenai finished a disappointing sixth.
Hurdles faced by our shooters
A hectic and draining schedule, mismanagement by the Indian administrators and lack of managers at the venue added to the plight of our shooters. The Asian Games were at the end of a gruelling schedule for our marksmen which included the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and the Granada World Championships.
The constant travel and ensuing jetlag did affect performances. Moreover our shooters had to make a detour to collect their accreditation cards some of which were not even ready. The situation left many shooters stranded as they were forced to apply for fresh visas.
Lack of Managers
Shweta Chaudhry who brought India’s first shooting medal had to go through the ordeal of finding a replacement gun as her own gun was confiscated. The reason was that the registration number did not match with that on the form. Shweta was made to run from pillar to post just to be able to participate on the first day of the competition as she did not even have a manager to help her out.
Despite all this, when Shweta and all our other shooters stood on the podium to receive medals for India, it was a victory for the perseverance displayed by our shooters.
The Positives – More medals than at Guangzhou Asian Games
In spite of all the hardships that our shooters had to endure simply to be able to even participate, they managed to increase their overall haul from the last Asian Games. Out of the nine medals, while the men contributed six, the women added three which was a marked improvement from last edition where the women managed just one.
While India had featured amongst the top five countries in shooting at the Guangzhou Games, this time they finished at the eighth spot. Our administrators need to ensure that our shooters don’t suffer from any distractions that hamper their performances the next time they participate in a multi-sports event.