Beijing: India’s Olympic campaign on Saturday began on a dismal note as the shooting trio of Anjali Bhagwat, Avneet Kaur Sidhu and Samresh Jung, considered the country’s best bets for a medal, fell by the wayside in the qualifying rounds in Beijing.
India’s hopes in judo also evaporated with Tombi Khumujam Devi’s campaign lasting only two and a half minutes with the Manipuri judoka outmanoeuvred by Ana Hormigo of Portugal in the 48kg category.
The experience of Anjali and the verve of Avneet, making her Olympic debut, were not enough as the duo could not make it to the business end of 10m air rifle event, finishing 29th and 39th respectively.
Samresh, on the other hand, could not replicate his 2006 Commonwealth Games performance, which had earned him the moniker of ‘Goldfinger’ and shot 92,95,96,98,96 and 93 to total 570 and finish a lowly 42nd in the air pistol event.
Anjali, who is toiling more these days for her pet 50m Rifle 3 Position event, shot 393, while Avneet totalled 389 at the Beijing Shooting Hall Range.
Anjali Bhagwat looks up during the women’s 10m Air Rifle Qualification at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on 9 August 2008. (Reuters photo)
The first medal event of the Beijing Olympics saw Czech Katerina Emmons (400+103.5) winning the gold at 503.5, while Russian Lioubov Galkina (399+103.1) settled for the silver shooting 502.1.
The bronze went to Snjezana Pejcic (399+101.9) who tallied 500.9.
Anjali began well and looked impressive in her first two attempts before losing the plot. She shot 99 in the first two but things went haywire in the third where she shot 97 and signed off with 98 which was just not enough to make the cut for the eight-shooter final.
“I was going well but had some problem with my body movement. I sort of stabilised myself but that cost me some time and I was under pressure subsequently,” a dejected Anjali later said.
Anjali had less than eight minutes to finish her last series of 10 shots and the shooter was clearly in a hurry to finish in time.
“I could not have shot faster in the first two series, that would have hampered my rhythm. But at the same time, I had to speed up.
“I did not expect a miracle here but anyway, it’s water under the bridge now,” she said.
Avneet too didn’t have a bad start and she shot a perfect 100 in the second series as well. But an uneven third series of 96 shook her confidence and she finished with 95 to total 389.
“Once I shot a nine in the third series, it really unnerved me. Suddenly I realised I could not afford to make any more mistakes and that affected my subsequent performance,” said the Arjuna awardee.
“I think I lacked that mental strength. The competition standard was in fact lower than say World Cup but I just could not be in full control of my mind.
“Still, it was a good experience and now I know the areas I need to work on,” she said.