Manavjit, Mansher fail to qualify; India's medal hopes dashed

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Beijing, Aug 10 (UNI) India's hope for a medal in the trap event went up in smoke as world champion Manavjit Sandhu and veteran Mansher Singh failed to qualify for the finals in the Olympic Shooting competition here today.

Just before the departure from India, Manavjit had even threatened to spill blood in Beijing in his quest for a Olympic medal but the situation never came to such a pass and the Indian was once again left ruing as what happens to him at this stage in these Games.

The much hyped duo found going tough with Mansher finishing eighth and Manavjit 12th in the qualification rounds from which first six made it to the finals.

Mansher totalled 117, while Manavjit aggregated 116 out of 125. The first seven shooter had a score of 121 (two), 120 (two) and 119 (three).

Manavjit, who came here with the confidence of being the World Champion must have found out that Olympics is different. It comes once in four years, while World Cup and Championships are held every year.

In the intensely competitive field which included Michael Diamond of Australia and Alexey Alipov of Russia, Manavjit was not able to break through.

The 32-year-old Punjab shooter, who has been training with coach Marcelo Dradi in Italy, has not been in great form of late as he has not made any finals in international competition this season except for the Asian Clay championship in Jaipur which was evident here.

Mansher, participating in his fourth Olympics did put up a good show but that was not enough for him to make it to finals for once.

Yesterday, after three series of 25 each, Manavjit with 70 and Mansher with 69 were at 12th and 21st places respectively.

This morning, Mansher shot 24 out of 25 in his fourth series but Manavjit had a dismal series of 22 and missing those three crucial points made all the difference.

In the last and fifth series, Mansher and Manavjit shot identical 24 but that was of no use and India's hope of a medal vanished in a thin air.

''I have no excuse to offer,'' said Manavjit about his failure to make it to the final. ''I did my best but seems that was just not enough.

''The three misses in the fourth series made all the difference, though I had a score of 70 yesterday, I was still hopeful of getting into the final but three misses dashed my hopes.

''I had a last series of 24 but it was just not enough, loss of nine points in a total of 125 makes a huge difference. When you go into the Olympics you have to be one of the contenders and not one of the participants to be hopeful of the medal,'' Manavjit said, adding ''I am not performing as I used to perform in 2006 and 2007, I tried hard but that was it.'' He, however, added that Indian shooting is improving and added, ''We are doing well. This failure should not make us dismissive about the discipline. We have good support from the government and hope we will be among the medals.'' Both in the Kerrville and the Belgrade World Cups this season, Manavjit had a round of 21 that pulled down his total to 116 and 117 respectively. He had finished 19th with a 116 in Athens. History again repeated itself for him in these game.

His best has been a 123 in the Asian championship in Bangkok in 2005. He had shot a 121 out of 125 on way to the gold in the world championship in Zagreb in 2006.

Mansher, however, was more candid in his views, ''What happened to me in the third round (yesterday, in which he missed five points in the last series of 25) is something that I will sit back and analyis.

''Today, while shooting I realised that I was leaning a bit to the right but by the time realisation dawned on me the round was over and so were my chances,'' Mansher said.

A visibly upset chief coach Sunny Thomas was of the view that yesterday's third round performance of Mansher was his undoing. ''But for those five misses yesterday and three misses by Manavjit today proved very costly.'' UNI HSB RAR HT132

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