CHENNAI: Mehuli Ghosh was just a shot away from a historic gold medal for India. The rifle shooter had done all the hard work before that and had a healthy lead going into the final shot of the 10m air rifle women’s final at the ongoing Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires. Having shot consistently throughout with scores above 10, a win looked certain. But much to her disappointment, the 17-year-old came up with a dreadful shot, a meagre 9.1. And with that, her closest rival Stephanie Laura Scurrah Grundsoee walked away with the top prize, while she settled for a silver medal. This was India’s third so far in the quadrennial event. Serbia’s Marija Malic took bronze with a score of 226.2.
Even though it is a highly-creditable performance, the silver felt like a loss. Not taking anything away from her overall display, Mehuli’s coach Joydeep Karmakar felt the gravity of that miss. “I’m definitely happy. She had worked very hard for this. But at the same time, it was little heartbreaking after the last shot,” Joydeep told Express.
Apart from that late blip, Mehuli gave a very assured performance. The gripping finale was almost like a livewire Formula One race with some wheel-to-wheel battles and the lead changing hands on several occasions.
Four, including Mehuli, were in the running for gold until the business end. Joydeep is aware that she still has room for improvement, and is encouraged by her improving performances over the last twelve months or so.
“We have seen this in the Commonwealth Games also. A gold was almost in her pocket, but then she missed out after that bad shot. Anyway, a silver medal is still a big feat. She has proved that she can perform at the very highest level. Looking at her scores, she was very much up ahead. We’re all happy for this performance, and proud of her,” the former India shooter said.
On Monday, Mehuli had raised India’s hopes from the qualifiers itself, after acing that stage with a score of 628.1 just a few hours prior to the finals. In the finals, apart from her consistency, she also impressed with the way she fought after being pegged back.
With a four-way battle for the top spot, it was a game of margins. At one instance, she was pushed down to the fourth spot and was in danger of missing out, but she came up with big scores. Joydeep was happy with the courage that she displayed in that hour of need. But he also knows that she has to dig deeper to succeed in this sport, where fortunes can be decided by a single shot.
“She fought back very well, but it is not over until it is over. My mantra has always been that. I had very little time to talk to her after the match. I’ll definitely have a word with her once she is back. We need to keep pushing hard.”
The silver medal also added to her fast-growing reputation. Mehuli has been one of the consistent shooters for some time. At the turn of 2018, she had won her first World Cup medal (bronze) in Mexico. Following that performance, she had fetched a CWG medal (silver). Recently, she had won a silver in the team event at the World Championships.It’s onwards and upwards for Mehuli as she continues to rise and promise a happy tomorrow for India.