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Updated: October 14, 2010 00:12 IST

Heena Sidhu misses gold by a whisker

Kamesh Srinivasan
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Heena Sidhu. Photo: Rajeev Bhatt
Heena Sidhu. Photo: Rajeev Bhatt

Heena Sidhu missed the air pistol gold by 0.3 points and Gagan Narang failed to make the rifle prone final, as India wound up with 14 gold, 11 silver and five bronze medals in shooting in the Commonwealth Games on Wednesday.

With Samaresh Jung reduced to bronze in standard pistol, it was a below-par finish for the host after shooting had started well with a flurry of gold medals.

“I will cherish the wins, and learn a lot from the losses. It is back to the drawing board, especially in the prone position,'' said Narang, who had won four gold medals on the trot, but could not add a medal from the rifle prone event.

Narang had shot 590 in prone, and missed out a berth in the final in a shoot-off against two others, including the eventual qualifier Mangala Samarakoon of Sri Lanka 51.6 to 53.2.

Hariom Singh improved dramatically from the pairs competition and shot 591 to make the final, following a series of 98, 99, 98, 99, 98, 99, but ended up eighth.

Heena Sidhu was a class act, as she was joint first in qualification with a score of 383 with Malaysian Pei Chin Bibiana. The 21-year-old Heena finished qualification with three 9s and that possibly cost her the gold.

In the final, Heena started the warm-up series with two 10.9, but could not recapture the same magic in the competition.

“I had focused quite a lot during the qualification, and was perhaps tired,'' said Heena, who held the lead till the seventh shot in the 10-shot final.

The Malaysian, who had started the qualification with a round of 93, but had picked up with a series of 98, 96 and 96, took the lead with a 10.5 eighth shot in the final, and pulled ahead to win a thriller, despite a 9.1 last shot.

Samaresh Jung finished with a 49 out of 50 in the last of the 10-second series to snatch the bronze medal in standard pistol with a score of 559. From winning five gold medals, a silver and a bronze in four events in the last edition, it was a fall for Samaresh. The impact of the Indian pistol team not having an expert coach after the last Olympics was bound to reflect in the overall results.

National coach Prof. Sunny Thomas conceded that the Sports Authority of India (SAI) and the sports ministry were aware of the problem, and highlighted the fact that top coaches were not willing to work on a six-month contract.

Mixed feeling

Summing up the Games, Prof. Thomas said he was happy that total went up from 27 to 30, but was disappointed that the number of gold medals had reduced from 16 to 14.

‘'We could have got four or five more gold medals,'' said Prof. Thomas.

Rifle coach Stanislav Lapidus said that he had expected two more gold medals from the rifle shooters, but pointed out that it was impossible to win medals with the rifle that Narang was using, particularly in the prone event.

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