Rathore, Samresh knocked out in qualifiers (Shooting, Lead)

August 12th, 2008 - 5:38 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Abhinav Bindra
By V. Krishnaswamy
Beijing, Aug 12 (IANS) Two of India’s top shooters, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore and Samresh Jung, crashed out rather tamely a day after Abhinav Bindra fired India to golden glory at the ranges. Both Rathore in Double Trap and Samresh in 50-metre Pistol failed to qualify for the finals.

Bindra Monday ended India’s Olympic misery, winning its first-ever individual gold medal, and Tuesday the focus on shooting was intense as Athens Games silver medallist ‘Chilly’ Rathore and Commonwealth Games ‘Goldfinger’ Samresh took aim. The expectations were high and the audience included Bindra and virtually the entire officialdom of the Indian contingent.

Under such scrutiny, Rathore, India’s first ever individual silver medallist in 2004 Athens, was unable to recreate the magic and was eliminated at the qualification stage itself.

Rathore shot 43-45-43 to total 131, five points less than last qualifier for the six-man final. It was just not his day as Rathore ended 15th out of the 19 shooters. Four years ago, Rathore logged in 135 in the qualifying round and added a 44 in the final for a silver.

A little earlier Samresh, who won five gold medals at the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games, crashed out.

Samresh, who came in with a Minimum Qualifying Score of 564, managed only 540 with series of 88, 92, 91, 86, 90 and 93, to end up at 42 out of 45 starters.

Samresh was woefully out of touch and fared badly in the 10-metre air pistol event earlier.

Equally stunning was the elimination of defending champion Sheikh Ahmed Al-Maktoum of the UAE. He went out in a shoot-out after four, including Mark Rusell of Australia, were tied at 136. Russell won the shoot-out, while Maktoum, William Chetcuti of Malta and Rolland Gerebics of Hungary were beaten in the tie-breaker.

Later in the final, Walton Eller, the 26-year-old American, who was 17th in 2004, won with a total of 190, including 45 in the final. His series scores were 48, 49, 48 and 45 in the final.

The silver went to D Aniello Francesco of Italy with 187, comprising 141 in qualification and 46 in the final. Hu Binyan of China took the bronze with 184 (138 plus 46).

Mark Russell, the Atlanta gold medallist in 1996, ended fifth with 181 (136 plus 45).

Though disappointed at not making the final, Rathore bravely met the media and was emotional as he admitted, “It was a difficult day. There was no problem with shooting. The shooting was solid. Yet we had one odd miss when the going was good. Reading the targets was not the easiest thing. Especially the first target, and that’s what we were trying to master over the last 10 days.”

“We all work hard. That’s the only thing in our hands. All the shooters who came here have worked hard and then we try and wait for the result,” added Rathore.

“The results show, most of the top shooters did not post very high scores. I knew I could hold on to my score, ” he added. “But I could not hold on to my score because I could not read the targets very well. Primarily, we (he and his coaches) have not been able to do what we came here to achieve.”

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