NEW DELHI: Four days, three quotas! Indian shooters have had a reasonable campaign so far in the Asia Olympic Qualifiers for shooting here. Heena Sidhu showed why she is regarded as the pistol queen. The Patiala girl displayed nerves of steel to ace the 10m air pistol and open India’s campaign on a happy note.
Before Heena’s coup, the men’s rifle team (50m rifle prone), who were given a chance to make an impression, had failed to take their chances and made an early exit in the absence of veterans Abhinav Bindra and Gagan Narang.
The following day, all eyes were on London Olympics silver medallist Vijay Kumar (25m rapid fire pistol) and three-time Olympian Manavjit Singh Sandhu (trap). Vijay had struggled for a long time while Manvjit had a close miss
during the World Cup. Yet, both were positive coming into the tournament. Armed with plenty of experience, the due took the range. However, both missed the mark. Instead, it was an unheralded Kynan Chenai who claimed the quota.No one saw that coming. But for Kynan it was a first major scalp.
Twenty-four hours later, it was Ayonika Paul who displayed steely nerves to edge teammate Pooja Ghatkar for silver, and a ticket to Rio Olympics. In an engaging women’s 10m air rifle final, the Indian shooters held a good rhythm to stay in hunt for one quota place on offer.
While it was a joyous moment for Ayonika and her parents, who were there at the venue, it was heartbreak for Pooja, whose one mistake at death proved to be decisive. She had maintained a good and looked set for a victory. However, in a late twist, she lost control of one shot, which proved to be her downfall.
More heartbreak followed on Day 4. Saturday turned out to be day of misses as Mohammed Asab and Akhil Sheoran missed the mark by a whisker. After topping the qualifers, World No 7 Asab had high hopes of topping the scores in the elimination stage. Showing lot of intent, the 28-year-old started well but two misses in the middle stage proved too costly as he could not make it to shootout for top two positions which also had quota attached to it. Instead, he had to settle for bronze in the men’s double trap finals. He was visibly shattered after missing out on a golden opportunity. One could barely hear his monotonous.
He was visibly shattered after missing out on a golden opportunity. One could barely hear his monotonous voice as he tried to make sense of what had occurred. “I tried my best but I’m really disappointed…,” he said with a sigh.
“I had a very good chance to win a quota but I squandered the chance. The bronze is no consolation as I really wanted to win the quota.”
Earlier in the day, Sheoran showed lot of promise and was in contention for bronze medal and a quota spot in the men’s 10m Air Rifle. However, his inexperience in the big stage let to his downfall. The 19-year-old finished fourth.
Team G S B Total
Japan 4 - 1 5
India 1 1 2 4
Korea 1 1 2 4
Kuwait 1 1 1 3
Iran 1 1 1 3