London: Very few wrote about shooter Joydeep Karmakar`s medal chances in the run up to his event at the Olympic Games here Friday. So it came as a real surprise to many when the marksman went tantalisingly close to a podium finish before settling for the fourth place in the men`s 50 metres rifle prone.
But Karmakar is not complaining. In fact the 32-year-old South Eastern Railway employee has already set his eyes on "giving the nation a better gift" in the next edition of the Olympics at Brazil`s Rio de Janeiro.
"I had to compete under lot of pressure. It was my maiden Olympics. The field was also very tough. All top shooters were there," said Karmakar after his event at the Royal Artillery Barracks range.
"I would like to thank everyone… my well wishers. It is because of them that I could gather the mental courage to do well. I may not have got a medal, but even if it had been someone else I would have congratulated him for the way he fought his way out," he said.
Karmakar, who hails from Dum Dum in Kolkata`s northern suburb, made history in 2010 by scoring 599/600 at the Sydney World Cup. He is also the first Indian to have made a podium finish in 50m prone at the World Cup.
Son of a three-time national champion male swimmer Santa Karmakar, the shooter honed his skills at the North Calcutta Rifle Club.
In 1995, Karmakar started international rule shooting, and won gold at the pre-national, despite struggling with a 45-year-old rifle borrowed from a club. In 1997, he was inducted into the junior national squad -- the only one without a rifle of his own then.
It was six years later that he managed to buy his own rifle with a personal loan and some help from others.
Only six days after buying his new gun, Karmakar grabbed a bronze in the National Championship and since then has never looked back. He has represented India in 17 World Cups.
In London Friday, Joydeep shot an overall score of 699.1, including 595 in the qualification and 104.1 in the medal round. His score in the final was third highest among the eight shooters.
Slovenian Rajmond Debevec carded 1.9 points more in aggregate than Karmakar to take the bronze.
Confident after his good showing, Karmakar was looking ahead at Rio.
"I think I can give the nation a better gift next time," said the shooter.