Indian shooters disappoints at Olympics

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Beijing, Aug 9: The much hyped Indian shooters' Olympic campaign started disastrously as Anjali Bhagwat and Avneet Kaur Sidhu failed to qualify for the finals in their favourite 10m Air Rifle event, while in the men's trap competition Manavjit Sandhu and Mansher Singh's challenge was hanging in balance and in 10m Air Pistol, Samresh Jung finished way down the leader board here today.

Much was expected from experienced Anjali Bhagwat and debutante Avneet Kaur Sidhu but they could not live up to the expectations and finished at poor 29th and 39th respectively in the field of 47 shooters. Czech Republic's Katerina Emmons earned the distinction of winning the first Gold of the 29th Olympiad with a total of 503.5, a new Olympic record. Russian Lioubov Galkina with 502.1 came second and Croatian girl Snjezana Pejcic finished third for bronze.

Fancied Chinese shooter Li Du disappointed her fans by finishing fifth with a total of 499.6.

Taking part in her third Olympics, the 38-year-old Anjali started off well when she scored 99 out of 100, while missing one shot in the ninth series of 10.

In the second round, she again had a score of 99, this time missing ninth shot in the fifth series but next two rounds saw her dropping five shots.

She missed the target in the third, fifth and sixth series of the third round and in the seventh and eighth series had a scores of 97 and 98 to total 393 for 29th place.

Avneet Sidhu, who was considered to be a serious challenger after her recent good showing in International competitions, some how, was not able to withstand the pressure and totalled a poor 389, with the series score of 98, 100, 96, 95.

The two Indian women shooters still have one more event to go. They will be seen in action in 50m rifle three prone on August 14.

In the men's trap event Manavjit Sandhu and Mansher Singh were precariously placed at the end of three rounds on the opening day.

World champion Manavjit Sandhu with a total of 70 out of 75 was lying 12th, Mansher, taking part in his fourth Olympic was at 21st spot with a score of 69.

Sandhu dropped two shots in his first series of 25 (23) and again missed two in the second series (23) and then came up with 24 in the third.

The 32-year-old Sandhu is in a group which includes World record holder Giovanni Pellielo of Italy and 1996 Olympic gold winner Michael Diamond of Australia.

The 43-year-old Mansher is in the group which has another World record holder David Kostelecky (Czech Republic).

The two Indians will have to come up with some superb display tomorrow in the remaining two rounds of 25 each to hope for a berth in the final eight in the field of 35 shooters.

In men's 10m Air Pistol event, Samresh Jung must have realised the difference between the Commonwealth Games and the Olympics.

Hero of 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games, Jung found himself all at sea in the 10m Air pistol competition as he finished at the second last in the field of 43 shooters.

Brazil's Stenia Yamamoto saved him from the dubious distinction of being the last.

Jung shot 570 out of 600 with his series score reading 92, 95, 96, 98, 96, 93, while the leader Wei Pang of China led the table with whopping 586 points.

Top eight shooters in the field qualified for the final.

Talking about her failure, Anali Bhagwat said, ''Well these things do happen, I gave my best and I have no excuse, though I can say that I have been training more for 50m rifle prone.'' 'It started Ok' Anjali said of her match. ''I did well in first two series in which I had 99 and 99, it was going Well but then I realised that I was having lot of body movement.'' ''I took long time in the first two series and there was also a bit of time pressure but I realised that if I had tried faster rhythm it would not have worked for me,'' she said.

''Then I dropped five points - three in third series and two in fourth- and that did me in, yes there was time pressure on me in the last series but that could not be an excuse,'' she stated.

Anjali insisted that she did not make change in her stance but added ''well it was not my day.'' ''I hope I will do well in 50m prone,'' she said.

Avneet Sidhu was visibly disappointed. Admitting that she was expecting better results in her favourite event the Punjab girl said ''It was going well in the first two series (98,100) but loss of four points in the third series had an unsettling effect.'' Avneet, who has been honoured with Arjuna Award this year said ''It indeed was a big moment but I was under no tension. I think competition in the World Cup is much stiffer.'' Asked if she felt an difference between Olympics and World Cup or Championships, she said ''as a shooter I did not feel any difference because same shooters take part in those events also.'' ''I tried my best but it did not work out, so I can't blame any body,'' the Bhatinda girl added.

Manavjit Sandhu, looked bit disappointed with his score but exuded confidence that tomorrow it will be better.

''The lose of two points each in first two series was not good and then I missed one more in the third. I hope it will turn out to be good tomorrow,'' he added.

Mansher Singh's qualification for this Olympics, 24 years after his first in Los Angeles, was thrilling as he managed to get through a shoot-off in the World Cup at Lonato, after 122 out of 125, before capturing the sole berth in a strong field of 149 shooters.

It remains to be seen whether luck will be again that kind to Mansher tomorrow. The veteran started with flourish as he had a cent percent record in the first series 25 out of 25. He dropped a point in the second series (24) but calamity struck in the crucial third series in which he missed five important points (20).

''I started pretty well and was happy with my self but the third series was unsettling, I hope I do well tomorrow,''.

UNI

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