Champia brings smiles, but shooters disappoint (India 2nd Lead)

August 9th, 2008 - 8:35 pm ICT by IANS  

By V. Krishnaswamy
Beijing, Aug 9 (IANS) Archer Mangal Singh Champia stood out while the women’s team entered the quarter finals after the high-profile shooters misfired on a mixed day for India at the 29th Olympic Games here Saturday. The 24-year-old Champia brought cheer to the Indian contingent, finishing second in the individual ranking round on day one of the competition in the world’s biggest sporting extravaganza.

Champia shot 678, just one point less than the top archer Mexican Juan Rene Serrano (679) in the men’s individual ranking round at the Olympic Green Archery field here. The Jharkhand-based Champia left behind celebrated rivals like he world record holder, Im Dong-Hyun of Korea (670) as also defending gold medallist Marco Galiazzo of Italy

Indian women archers finished sixth as a team Saturday with a total of 1,897. Despite some less than modest individual performances, they earned a bye in the round of 16 and they will now meet third ranked hosts china in the last eight stage Sunday. A win will put India close to a medal.

The best Indian was Laishram Bombayla Devi in the 22nd place with 637 while seasoned campaigner Dola Banerjee was 31st with 633 points, and V. Pranitha, with 627 points, 37th among the 64 archers.

The ranking round is to determine the match pairings for the round of 32 when the tournament goes into the knock-out format.

Bombayla, who fired nine bulls’ eye hits and 22 ten-pointers, would take on 43rd ranked Poland’s Iwona Marcinkiewicz in the first round of the individual women’s competition Tuesday.

Dola, who turned 29 exactly a week ago, got eight bulls’ eye hits and 20 ten-pointers as she accumulated 633. The Baranagar-born archer would clash with 34th ranked Marie-Pier Beaudet of Canada in the first knock-out round.

Pranitha paid for her inconsistency after a good performance in the first half.

With a total score of 627, Pranitha would meet 28th ranked Australian Jane Waller in her first knock-out match.

The nation had a luckless day at the ranges as the shooters saw their medal hopes evaporate with Samresh Jung, Anjali Bhagwat and Avneet Kaur Sidhu bowing out in the qualification round with below-par performances.

Anjali, competing in her third Olympics, ended up 29th in the women’s 10-metre Air Rifle, with a score of 393. Avneet Kaur Sidhu finished 10 places below her, shooting a poor 389.

“I could not control my movement in the second half and that made the difference,” Anjali later said.

Goldfinger Jung, who emerged the toast of the nation after bagging five gold medals in the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games, fared worse. He shot only 570 out of 600 and finished a lowly 42nd out of 48 competitors.

Jung came into the Games with a qualification score of 584, but Saturday he fell way short of that in his pet event, where he had finished fourth at the 2007 World Cup in Munich with 584 out of 600.

India had a poor start in women’s judo, where Manipur’s Tombi Devi made an opening round exit in the 48 kilogram class. Tombi could not stand up to the skill and reflexes of Ana Hormigo of Portugal and went out virtually without a fight in two and a half minute before a sparse crowd at the USTB gymnasium.

Meanwhile, the controversy triggered by the casual attire of some women competitors at Saturday night’s spectacular opening ceremony continued to simmer. But, the Indian Olympic Association sought to downplay the matter.

While Sania Mirza and Sunitha Rao wore their practice outfits, Neha Aggarwal put on a green sari, giving a shabby look to the contingent which marched past at the packed National Stadium Friday night before a gathering of world leaders.

“They (Sania and Sunitha) came back from training and they had no time to changeā€¦ It is no big deal, as it is being made out,” said Indian Olympic Association president Suresh Kalmadi.

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