Will Gagan, Abhinav salvage India's pride?

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{image-beijing+dark rings_10082008.jpg www.oneindia.com}Beijing, Aug 10: With the much-hyped duo of Manavjit Sandhu and Mansher Singh failing in trap and women's pair of Anjali Bhagwat and Avneet Kaur Sidhu flopping in 10m air rifle, the onus is now on young Gagan Narang and Abhinav Bindra to salvage India's prestige when they take part in the men's 10 m air rifle event of the Olympic Shooting competition here tomorrow.

Too much expectations from the shooters have taken its toll, and there is a pall of gloom in the Indian camp and it remains to be seen whether these two promising shooters will bring laurels for the country. Gagan and Abhinav have proved themselves in the Commonwealth Games and various World Cups and championships, but their real test comes tomorrow. The pressure of Olympics is different and who else can tell that then their team mates Mansher and Manavjit.

Gagan has nerves of steels which should be a great help to him at crucial moments as he is considered to be the coolest shooter.

The stocky Hyderabadi shooter has beaten the best shooters of the World in his event in various competitions and he will be facing most of them along with his compatriot Abhinav Bindra for the elusive Olympic medal and the Indians back home must be hoping and praying that both of them should end up on the podium.

There is a distinct possibility of this happening because given their recent form they can do it.

Gagan is in a good form. The Melbourne Commonwealth Games quadruple gold medallist's campaign for Olympic medal got the boost when in Hanover during a training session, he erased World record holder Thomas Farnik's record of 703.1 with an awesome score of 704.3.

But there is a huge difference between creating a record in the practice session, which most of the Indians tend to do, and performing in the Olympics, in which they ( Indians) usually fail.

To peak at the right time and at the right place is a principle central to all these games and especially to this high precision sport, a fraction of distraction can ruin one's whole life's preprations.

''Olympics is not the end of the road,'' Gagan had told mediapersons before leaving the country for the Games and only time will tell how his debut performance in Olympics will be.

Another shooter, on whose shoulder lies enormous responsibility is Chandigarh's 25-year-old Abhinav Bindra, for whom this is the third successive Olympics.

From being the youngest shooter in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Abhinav has since traversed a long way.

''It is an opportunity to do well. I will try and perform to the best that I can on the world's biggest stage,'' said Abhinav.

He made the final in Athens but could not made it to the podium despite shooting his best. However, there is a hope again that this time he may be lucky to be among the medal winners.

''There is never enough preparation and training. There will always be something that you can do more. But I am starting to back myself and my beliefs, and doubt my doubts,'' he said.

He missed the last Asian Games in Doha to improve his back, but after that he has worked really very hard for this competition.

''I have prepared as best as I could for the last two years.

It has not been easy after my back problem. But now I feel fit and confident,'' he said.

Before coming here Abhinav trained in Germany with his Swiss coach Gaby Buehlmann along with other Indian shooters.

UNI

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