GOLD COAST : For a precision shooter, a small distraction may lead to a lapse in concentration. Or it will make the heart race faster, something shooters dread. Shots are completed between heartbeats. Champion shooters are trained to control their heartbeats and emotions, even in distress. On Tuesday, Heena Sidhu faced a situation that could have jeopardised her victory in the 25m air pistol final. An empty pellet from another shooter landed on her during the rapidfire series during qualification. This distracted her. “It’s difficult for a shooter to concentrate after such (an) incident,” said Ronak Pandit, her husband and coach. Pandit, who is also the manager of the Indian shooting team, had to ask officials to allow her to restart her rapid-fire series.
Some theatrics followed. Initially, the officials agreed and then disagreed which led to confusion. It was resolved but it took time. Even after everyone had finished, she was still shooting. Not an easy task. The 29-year-old finished third in qualifying behind Singapore’s Xiu Hong Teh (584; 17x) and India’s Annu Singh (584; 13x). Heena hit the bullseye 21 times but had a score of 579. In the final, she did not let the earlier incident affect her. Though she was behind Australia’s Elena Galiabovitch until the sixth round, she didn’t let this stutter her charge. She finished with 38 points to Elena’s 35.
Heena was already under pressure after missing out on a gold in her pet 10m air pistol event on Sunday. She was distraught but determined to exorcise the demons that had haunted her then. During practice too she was uncomfortable with her scores. “She had been telling me that she was not happy about her scores,” said Ronak. For the coach and ward, qualification was not much of an issue. They knew that if everything was in order, Heena would reach the final.
“We were concentrating on the final throughout,” he said. When she missed out on the gold in the 10m air pistol event, Heena was complaining about a tingling sensation in her shooting finger. It was not there on Tuesday. “I must thank the coach, physio and the psychologists who worked on me and helped me achieve this,” she said, They even simulated a high-pressure situation during practice. “I tried to soak in pressure so that I did not panic,” she said. This being a busy season, Heena will hope to chisel out the rough edges and prepare for the next challenge — Asian Games.
In semis in hockey Rani Rampal scored the only goal as India entered the semis of the women’s hockey event by beating South Africa 1-0. Earlier, a brace by Harmanpreet Singh helped the men’s team enter the last four as they beat Malaysia 2-1 in a draining Pool B match. The drag flick specialist converted two penalty corners in the 3rd and 44th minute.