India fumble as shooters, archers disappoint (India, Lead)

August 12th, 2008 - 7:05 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Abhinav Bindra
By V. Krishnaswamy
Beijing, Aug 12 (IANS) A day after shooter Abhinav Bindra sent India into frenzied celebrations by winning the nation’s first ever individual Olympic gold, the below-par showing of the shooters and archers came as an anti-climax Tuesday. Flyweight boxer Jitender Kumar provided the lone bright spot by storming into the pre-quarterfinals. The biggest setback came from the ranges, when Athens Olympics silver medallist Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore and Commonwealth Games hero Samresh Jung shot erratically to bow out from the the qualification stage itself.

It was also curtains for the Indian women archers, a misery that was compounded by the fact that two of them surrendered to lower-ranked opponents.

Pugilist Jitender, though, powered his way to victory over Turkey’s Ulas Furkan Memis in a 51 kg first round bout. Jitender was leading 12-3 when Memis retired in the third round.

Double trap shooter Rathore failed to make it to the final, finishing 15th in the qualifiers with a disappointing score of 131 at the Beijing Shooting Range. The Armyman shot a poor series of 43, 45, 43 to finish way down at 15th in the 19-strong field.

Four years ago, Rathore had become the toast of the nation with a score of 135 in the qualifiers and then added a 44 in the final to fire India’s first ever individual Olympic silver.

An emotional Rathore said after the event: “Reading the targets was not the easiest thing. The results show as most of the top shooters did not post very high scores. I knew I could hold on to my score, but I could not because I could not read the targets very well.”

Samresh, nicknamed Goldfinger, fared worse as he managed only the 42nd slot with a score of 540 in the qualifiers of the men’s 50-metre pistol event.

Much was expected from Samresh, who had a rich haul of five yellow metals in the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games, but he failed to live up to expectations and shot poorly for a series of 88, 92, 91, 86, 90, 93 in the qualification round.

In archery, the promising Pranitha Vardhineni raised a hope bv coasting to the pre-quarter finals, but the dream faded away soon after as failed to hold her nerve in the last 16 contest.

Pranitha, who had earlier beaten Jane Waller of Australia 106-100 in the first round, went down to Kwun Un Sil of North Korea 99-106 in the pre-quarterfinals.

The other two women archers Dola Banerjee and Laishram Bombayla Devi made first round exits.

Seasoned campaigner Dola, who finished 31st in the ranking round, lost in the single-arrow shoot-off with 34th placed Marie Pier Beaudet of Canada at the Olympic Green Archery Field. The Canadian picked up a ten pointer in the shoot-off, while Dola could manage only eight after the two were locked 109-109 following the regulation arrows.

The young Bombayla missed out on a pre-quarterfinal berth, losing 103-105 to Polish girl Iwona Marcinkiewicz.

The Indian, ranked 22nd in the qualifying round, paid dearly for a poor score of six with the last shot of her second set of arrows that tilted the scales in Marcinkiewicz’s favour.

The East European, who finished 21 places below the Indian in the ranking competition, came up with scores of 26, 24, 27 and 24 in her four sets to move into the pre-quarterfinals.

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