Beijing Games gold medallist Abhinav Bindra on Monday crashed out of the 10m air rifle event at the London Olympics with a dismal display in the qualifying rounds, but compatriot Gagan Narang kept alive India’s hopes by advancing to the medal round in London.
Bindra, who scripted history four years ago by becoming the country’s first-ever individual gold medallist in the Olympics, shot 594 out of 600 to finish a shocking 16th out of 47 competitors and lost the golden chance of becoming the world’s first shooter to win two successive gold medals at the mega event.
However, Narang kept India in the hunt by finishing third with 598, a point behind world number 1 Niccolo Campriani of Italy and Romania’s Moldoveanu Alin George who both shot an Olympic record-equalling 599 to stand first and second in the qualifying round at the Royal Artillery Barracks.
Bindra started with two 99s in the first two series before coming back strongly by getting two perfect 10s for consecutive 100s in the third and fourth rounds.
The two 100s gave Bindra the lift and the belief he badly needed after dropping a point each in the first two sets.
However, a 99 in the fifth and an even poorer outing in the last series where he could score just 97, dashed Bindra’s chances of earning a berth in the eight-man finals to be held later on Monday.
This was the only event the 29-year-old Bindra from Chandigarh was taking part in, thereby cutting short his campaign in the ongoing Games.
Narang, on the other hand, was bang on target from the beginning, scoring two successive 100s, but a 98 in the third series somewhat let him down.
The 29-year-old Hyderabadi, however kept his cool and fought his way back into the reckoning for the medal round with a perfect 100 in the fourth series and then clinched the spot as the third best performer by notching two more 100s in his last two rounds.
Narang, a two-time world record setter, had won four gold medals in the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games and followed that up with two silver in the Guangzhou Asian Games a month later.
He had also won four yellow metals at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.