Gagan Narang provided a kick-start to the Indian campaign as he shot a meet record of 599 in helping India clinch the air rifle pairs gold, eight points ahead of England, in the Commonwealth shooting championship at the Tughlakabad Range here on Friday.
For someone who has shot two world records, including a perfect 600 out of 600 in the World Cup finals, this was not such a striking performance, but the rifle coach of the Indian squad, Stanislav Lapidus, observed that Narang knew how to extract the best out of him, even though it was the beginning of a new season.
Having started with a first shot of 9, Gagan revealed his resolve in shooting 59 perfect shots on the trot, and was understandably pleased with the effort. He observed that it would boost his confidence for the remaining five events and vowed that he would shoot a 600 once again, possibly on the right stage.
There was more cheer for the Indian camp from the 25-metre pistol range, as Anisa Sayyed Khan helped the Indian women's sport pistol team clinch the gold ahead of Australia, which had the seasoned Linda Ryan as spearhead.
Identical rounds of 291 in the ‘precision' and ‘duelling' sessions saw Anisa assert herself. The Western Railway employee remarked that she was capable of scoring a few more points in the rapid fire section, and exuded confidence about capturing the individual gold as well.
The Indian 50-metre rifle 3-position women's team of Lajja Gauswami and Tejaswini Sawant was unlucky to settle for the bronze, one point behind champion Scotland. A last shot ‘9' by Lajja undid all the good work, though the team had the same total as Wales at 1135. Wales had better ‘inner 10s' of 41, as compared to India's 40 in nosing ahead in the tie-break for the silver.
One more point would have seen India beat Scotland (30 ‘inner 10s') comfortably for the gold by the tie-break rule.
England would have comfortably won the gold, but for opting to keep out Michelle Smith (573), the eventual topper, as she was competing despite a twisted ankle. In fact, she had to be helped to her lane for competition on the shoulders of her teammates, as the elaborate medical arrangements at the venue did not have provision for crutches.
Meanwhile, national coach Prof. Sunny Thomas was upset about the 50-metre free pistol team not living up to expected standards. While Amanpreet Singh had the consolation of winning the gold ‘badge', as he topped the team competition with an individual score of 552, the team of Bapu Vanzare and Viraj Singh were squarely beaten by the experienced Englishmen Michael Gault and Nick Baxter to the gold.
The results (team):
Men: 10m air rifle: 1. India (Gagan Narang 599, 2. P.T. Raghunath 594) 1193 (NMR); 2. England (James Huckle 593, Ken Parr Jr. 592) 1185; 3. Bangladesh (Asif Hossain Khan 594, Shovon Chowdhury 588) 1182.
50m free pistol: 1. England (Michael Gault 545, Nick Baxter 537) 1082; 2. India (Bapu Vanzare 536, Viraj Singh 523) 1059; 3. Australia (Alfio Casagrande 523, Janek Janski 507) 1030.
Women: 25m sport pistol: 1. India (Anisa Sayyed 582, Annuraj Singh 565) 1147; 2. Australia (Linda Ryan 574, Elena Galiabovitch 564) 1138; 3. England (Georgina Geikie 571, Julia Lydall 558) 1129.
50m rifle 3-position: 1. Scotland (Jennifer McIntosh 573, Kay Copland 563) 1136 (NMR); 2. Wales (Jennifer Corish 570, Sian Corish 565) 1135; 3. India (Lajja Gauswami 571, Tejaswini Sawant 564) 1135.