Olympics: Indian shooters disappoint at London Games

London: There was huge expectations from the Indian shooters when they left for the Olympic Games but perhaps the hype was a trifle misplaced as the biggest ever shooting contingent returned with just silver and a bronze.

The big names of Indian shooting did not quite live up to the reputations and the form deserted them when it mattered the most.

The unheralded Vijay Kumar`s silver medal in the men`s 25m rapid fire pistol event and Gagan Narang`s bronze in the men`s 10m air rifle event were the saving grace for the Indian contingent, which prepared well for the Olympics with many of them training abroad.

Apart from these two medal winning efforts, Joydeep Karmakar came up with a creditable performance in the 50m rifle prone, missing out on a bronze by a whisker to take the fourth position.

It was a heart-warming performance by Karmakar in his very first Olympics and it became all the more creditable since many of his other fancied teammates flopped.

When the team left the Indian shores, Beijing Games gold medalist Abhinav Bindra, Narang and Ronjan Sodhi were touted as serious medal contenders and the media was talking about an unprecedented hall of medals from the shooting ranges at the Royal Artillery Barracks.

While Narang managed a bronze in one of his three events, Bindra and Sodhi turned in disappointing performances, failing to even clear the qualification rounds in their respective categories.

All in all, it again proved that Indian shooters, despite having improved vastly over the years, lacked the confidence and the composure to do well in the biggest sporting show on earth.
Despite having impressive track records, they failed to hold on to their nerves and many of them got overawed by the situation and succumbed to pressure.

Among the women shooters, none of them could really create much of an impression. Heena Sidhu, known for her consistency, was expected to do better than what she did, finishing 12th in qualification round for 10m air pistol, while Rahi Sarnobat took the 11th position in the 25m air pistol qualification.

Seasoned shooter Manavjit Singh Sandhu also did not do anything noteworthy as he finished 16th in the qualification in the men`s trap event.

Vijay said he had mentally prepared himself for winning a medal and was elated to have achieved his aim.

"I had mentally prepared myself for this moment. Being in the army has made me mentally tough and I used this to my advantage. Whatever I had planned, I have achieved," he had said after winning the medal.

"I have won several medals in international events, but an Olympic medal is always special. This medal means a lot to me. It has been my dream to win an Olympic medal. It is the highest you can get. I have a lot of medals on the wall but an Olympic medal was missing until now," he added.

Although Narang managed to win a bronze, his performance left much to be desired, a fact which the shooter himself admitted to.

"I had not managed to qualify for the finals in the last two events (50m Rifle Prone and 50m Rifle 3 Positions) and that was really painful. But now I am happy to have finally won an Olympic medal. It is like a huge stone off my chest."

Narang, who won four gold medals in the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, said he was not really satisfied with his performance and should have returned with a better haul.

"I am not really happy. My coach is also not happy with the score. Scoring 600 is always challenging, but I made a few technical mistakes at certain points. But then an Olympic medal is an Olympic medal", he confessed.