India goes down fighting to China

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Beijing, Aug 10 (UNI) Luck deserted Indian women archers at the crucial moment as they lost to host China 206-211 in the quarter-finals thus ending their Olympic medal hopes in team event rather unceremoniously here today.

Having beaten China thrice in last 18 months, the Indians led by Dola Banerjee were hoping to make it four times in a row but that was no to be as the host hit the target when they needed it while the visitors let go the chances.

It was a thrilling quarter-final encounter as both the teams were evenly poised and ran neck and neck until teenager Pranitha Vardhineni shot a five which allowed China to take the lead and after that Indians tried hard but could not over take the host.

''It was disappointing as we were doing well but the inexperience of one youngster made all the difference,'' said team manager AS Kang.

The Indian trio of Dola Banerjee, Bombayla Devi and Pranitha at one stage looked like making it to the last four but could not withstand the pressure and wilted under that.

World champion Dola led by an example as she top scored with 73 out of 80, followed by 21-year-old national champion Bombayla Devi, who shot 70/80 and 17-year-old Pranitha 63/80.

''I'm not going to be bogged down in the Olympics arena.

I'll give my best shot, the rest is up to God,'' Pranitha had said before coming here but she did not realise that Olympics is very different sporting arena and only sportspersons with nerves of steel can withstand its pressure.

The Chinese trio comprised of Ling Chen, Dan Guo and Juan Juan Zhang.

Dola started the Indian campaign with a fine nine pointer and then hit a perfect ten pointer, but immediately it became evident that Pranitha was going to be her side's weak spot.

The Hyderabadi girl shot eight and seven pointers, while Bombayla Devi shot nine and eight pointers to end up the first six arrow round with a total of 51, while the Chinese had first round total of 52.

The Indians again trailed Chinese in the second round by a solitary point 49-50, but it was the third round which sealed the Indian fate as the visitors shot 51, while Chinese collected 56 points to take an eight-point lead.

China's two-point lead in the last round did not help India (55-53) and with that their medal aspirations died.

Pranitha, whose first claim to fame came at the Cadets (Under-16) World Championships at Merida, Mexico (October 2006) where she bagged a silver after going down to Australian Jane Waller by a narrow margin of four points, could not be faulted because she did what she could do in such a tense match.

''It will be wrong to put blame on any one particular player,'' Kang said adding, ''but it was sheer inexperience that cost us the match.

''I could see no other reason. The weather was fine, the conditions were good, we had good practice session, so there is no excuse.

''It is actually a team effort and in that sense it is team failure,'' the manager added.

Dola shot three ten pointers off eight arrows, while Bombayla had two ten pointers but Parnitha could not get a single ten pointer.

The Indian hopes of medal in Archery now depends on individual events which will start from August 12.

UNI HSB RAR HT1328

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