New Delhi: Ace Indian rifle shooter Gagan Narang on Wednesday fired a perfect 600 to equal his own world record on his way to upsetting Olympic gold medallist and compatriot Abhinav Bindra and grabbing the men’s 10m individual air rifle title in the Commmonwealth Games today.
Narang, who had teamed up with Bindra to clinch the 10m air rifle pairs gold - the first for the country on Tuesday - took a giant stride in the qualification round by scoring the perfect 600 score while the Chandigarh shooter replied with 595.
The Hyderabad marksman, who had done a similar feat in the preliminaries in the Beijing World Cup two years ago, performed better in the finals too by scoring 103.6 as compared to Bindra’s 103.0 to settle the fight for the gold with an overall tally of 703.6, a new Games mark.
Incidentally Bindra had won the gold in the Beijing Olympics in the same event.
The 1-2 sweep of the medals by Indian marksmen, that left Englishman James Huckle to settle for the bronze, boosted India’s tally of medals on the third day of competitions to 13, out of which six are of the golden variety.
In swimming, the Indian men’s 4x200m relay quartet of Rehan Poncha, Rohit Havaldar, Madar Divase and Aaron D’Souza made it to the final clocking 7 minutes 49.20 seconds to grab the eighth position in the preliminaries.
After reaching the final, Poncha said, “This is the first time we made it to the final and it is a good feeling. Though a medal is not a possibility, we will continue to do well. There is no pressure.”
Virdhawal Khade of India qualified for the semifinals of the men’s 100m freestyle after finishing 13th, while Pooja Alva also entered the semifinals of the women’s 100m butterfly by bagging the 15th spot, as the top 16 make it to the last four stage.
A para-sport swimmer also brought some smiles as Sachin Verma progressed to the final of the 50m S9 freestyle men category by finishing eighth.
But the other Indians failed to advance. In women’s 800m freestyle, Richa Mishra missed the bus and also they could not make a mark in either men’s 200m backstroke or women’s 200m breaststroke.
Aditi Mutatkar made a successful debut, while Chetan Anand also shone as a dominant India sailed into the quarterfinals of the mixed badminton team event with a third clean sweep over Wales.
World number 17 Chetan beat Lewis Martyn 21-12 21-16 in 21 minutes to set the ball rolling, Pune girl Aditi, who made it to the squad at the eleventh hour, made it 2-0 by disposing off Turner Carissa 21-13 21-8 in 18 minutes.
Top men’s doubles pair of Sanave Thomas and Rupesh Kumar then subdued a fighting Phillips James and Morgan Joe Wales pair 21-17 21-14 to give the hosts a commanding 3-0 lead.
Ashwini Ponnappa and Aparna Balan then thrashed Turner Carissa and Harvey Caroline 21-11 21-13 in the women’s doubles, while mixed doubles pair of Jwala Gutta and V Diju spanked Lewis Martyn and Thomas Sarah 21-8 21-5 to wrap up a 5-0 win.
Off the field, the empty seats for most disciplines over the first two days grabbed attention with the Games Federation chief Michael Fennell bluntly telling organising committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi to solve the “serious issue”.
“We have discussed the issue of poor attendance with the OC, we have raised the question on how to get people packed at the stadium. Only the OC and Mr Kalmadi can answer all these questions ... we have put this on the agenda for further discussion,” Fennell told a press conference.
However, Kalmadi maintained that it was early days in the Games and with India picking up medals in many disciplines the interest of people will rise.
“We sold more than 50,000 tickets yesterday. The boxing and wrestling stadiums were packed yesterday. Now public interest is high with India picking five gold. There are queues in the stadiums. It will improve everyday. That only I can say,” he said.