Olympics: Shooter Gagan Narang opens medal count with bronze (Second Lead)

July 30th, 2012 - 9:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Abhinav Bindra London, July 30 (IANS) India’s rifle shooter Gagan Narang clinched the bronze medal in the men’s 10-metre air rifle event while his illustrious compatriot and defending champion Abhinav Bindra failed to qualify for the final round in the 2012 London Olympics at the Royal Artillery Barracks here Monday.

The gold went to Romanian Alin George Moldoveanu with a total score of 702.1 (599 qualifying, 103.1 final) and Italian Niccolo Campriani bagged the silver with 701.5 (599 qualifying, 102.5 final).

Narang, who is participating in his third Games, had a total score of 701.1 (598 qualifying, 103.1 final). Going into the final round, Narang was third.

In the final round, Narang had a series of 10.7, 9.7, 10.6, 10.7, 10.4, 10.6, 9.9, 9.5, 10.3 and 10.7 to give India its first medal from the London Games.

It was the third time in row that Indian shooters had won medals at the Olympics. Double trap shooter Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore won the silver in 2004, Bindra gave India a historic gold in Beijing, and now Narang has bagged a bronze in London.

Bindra, India’s only individual Olympic gold medallist, failed to qualify as he shot 594 to finish 16th out of 47 contestants.

In the qualifying round, Narang, who missed the final round in Beijing Games on a countback, was in his elements. The 29-year-old Hyderabadi shot perfect series of 100 in all the rounds except the third when he scored 98. He also shot 53 inner 10s.

Bindra had just two series of perfect 100 in the third and the fourth round. He shot 99s in the first, second and fifth and faltered in the sixth, when he shot 97. The top eight shooters qualified for the final round. Former Olympic champion and Beijing Games silver medallist Zhu Qinan of China also failed to qualify for the final round.

Bindra said luck deserted him during the qualification round of the 10 metres air rifle event at the 2012 London Games here Monday.

“Time was running out and I had to take some risks. Needed a little luck for some shots and I didn’t get it. I am disappointed, but love the sport, love shooting so am sure I’ll continue. I think I did a reasonable job. I could have retired on a high after the Bejing gold but that would have been the easy way out,” Bindra told reporters at the Royal Artillery Barracks here.

“I am glad I had the courage to come back and try again even though I have failed. I will still go away from London Olympics having learnt a lot,” said the former World Champion.

Bindra hoped his compatriot Narang will bag an Olympic medal. Narang fell two short of his world record score of 600. In fact, Narang is the only shooter to have shot a possible 600 twice.

“I would like to wish Gagan the very best. He shot an excellent qualifying round, think he will do very well in the final,” Bindra said.

Narang, who missed the final round in Beijing Games on a countback, was in his elements. The 29-year-old Hyderabadi shot perfect series of 100 in all the rounds except the third when he scored 98. He also shot 53 inner 10s.

Meanwhile, Bindra had just two series of perfect 100 in the third and the fourth round. He shot 99s in the first, second and fifth and faltered in the sixth, when he shot 97.

The 29-year-old Narang - who shot four golds in the Delhi Commonwealth Games and was always considered a big hope alongside Bindra in the event - made up for his compatriot’s luckless show by earning India it’s third Olympic medal from the sport.

Narang had given enough indications of his class in a pre-Olympics event in Germany’s Hannover by scoring 704.3 - that was higher than the world record of 703.1 set by Thomas Farnik of Austria in the 2006 World Cup.

The Indian shooter, participating in his third Games, however, was a shade below his Hannover high, managing an aggregate of 701.1 (598 qualifying, 103.1 final).

Narang’s success has added to India’s less than impressive medal count - which now stands at 21 comprising nine golds, four silvers and eight bronzes - in Olympics history.

Hockey alone has provided 11 metals (8 gold, 1 silver and two bronze medals). Apart from the three in shooting, the Indians have got two each in athletics and wrestling and one apiece from weightlifting, tennis and boxing.

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