India`s pistol shooters fail to impress

Doha: India`s 10m air pistol shooters on Sunday put up a disastrous show at the Asian Shooting Championships here to leave the team management fuming.

No Indian was within sniffing distance of a final spot which would have provided an opportunity to bag a quota for this year`s London Olympics.

Commonwealth Games gold medallist Omkar Singh was way below his personal best as he shot a low 572/600 to bow out of contention.

Having shot 584 to win the 2010 Commonwealth Games gold in New Delhi, Omkar had a realistic possibility of winning a medal in Doha. He started the 2nd qualification relay with a series of 97 but then slipped badly in the 2nd series to shoot 93.

After that it was all downhill with scores of 97 96 97 and the worst card saved for the last where he managed only 2 10`s.

He ended his qualification campaign with an 8 of his last shot for a last card of 92.

It wasn`t a great show in the first relay either, with Amanpreet Singh shooting 571 and Om Prakash a lowly 567. So poor was the combined effort that India finished 9th in the team standings, a massive 36 points behind gold medal winners Korea who totalled 1746/1800.

It was a performance that left national coach Sunny Thomas fuming.

"It is a miserable performance. The seniors were shooting like beginners. There is no excuse. All 3 were bad. Even if we had shot a par score of 580 a quota could have been possible. We were nowhere near that score. No one can complain. The government went out of its way to support the team.

"Something is definitely playing in their minds. Instead of focussing on shooting and technique they are dreaming on winning a quota. The attitude and focus is on something else. They are forgetting the basics."

The performance of the Minimum Qualifying Score or MQS shooters was better than the team with Amit Pilaniya shooting 574 and veteran Vivek Singh shooting 572.

The junior team of Akshay Jain, Vivek Kumar and Karanpreet Randhawa marched over their seniors with a bronze medal. Their combined score of 1701 was just 9 points lower than the senior team.

Also making it a good day for the juniors was the performance of the 50m prone team.

Navdeep Singh Rathore won gold for India with a score of 588 in qualification and 101.3 in the final.

Rathore went into the final 2 points behind China's Lilong Liu but made up the gap. In windy conditions, Rathore kept it simple and ran away with the gold.

His teammate Sanahal Huidrom won the individual bronze after a nerve-wracking final with another Chinese Jiaze Liu.

Both had qualified on a score of 582.

With 2 shots to go, Liu lead by 0.2 points. Both shot 9.6 in the 9th shot. In his final shot, Liu shot 10.6 which meant Huidrom had to shoot 10.8 to tie. He responded with a 10.9, which is the perfect score in rifle-pistol shooting, and claimed the bronze medal.

The team of Rathore, Huidrom and Vaibhav Sharma won a bronze medal behind China and Iran.

The juniors have made us proud said Thomas.

"Rathore was 2nd going into the final, 2 points behind the Chinse shooters. Yet he ended up beating the Chinse by a clear margin. More nerve-wracking was the bronze. It was a very good finish from Huidrom, he fought till the last and got the reward."

After three days of competition, the warning signs are there for the Indian team.

They have failed to win a single quota till now are in danger of repeating their show at the last Asian Championships in 2008 when they did not win a single Olympic qualifying spot.


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