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Updated: July 30, 2012 02:36 IST

Rhode wins historic fifth; Heena fails

Kamesh Srinivasan
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FULL OF EMOTION: USA's Kimberley Rhode on the podium after winning gold in the women's skeet.
AP FULL OF EMOTION: USA's Kimberley Rhode on the podium after winning gold in the women's skeet.

Heena Sidhu’s struggle with the last shots continued to plague her as she missed a golden chance to make the Olympic final in women’s air pistol with her last five shots fetching her 9s, at the Royal Artillery Barracks here on Sunday.

The 22-year-old shot 382 following a series of 93, 97, 97, 95 and missed the final by three points. She had been given an Olympic quota by the national federation after the student of dentistry had been unlucky to miss the quota with a bad last shot in the final of the Asian championship in Doha.

The other Indian in the fray, Annu Raj Singh grappled with a more serious problem with her finish as a card of 91 testified, and tumbled to the 23rd place with a total of 378.

The 28-year-old Annu Raj has a career-best score of 389 in making the qualification with a silver medal in a World Cup, and the field was topped by Guo Wenjun with a 388, as she went on to win another gold for China with a total of 488.1, ahead of Celine Goberville of France who beat world champion. Olena Kostevych of Ukraine 10.6 to 9.7 in the shoot-off after the two tied with a total of 486.6.

At a loss for words

National coach Prof. Sunny Thomas was at a loss for words, and said that he was shocked like everybody else as it was tough digest such a finish from such a good shooter after such a good performance till then.

“After 35 shots she was No. 4, and looked sure to make the final.

“Of course, in shooting you cannot be sure till the last shot. She is young, and will learn from this’’, said Prof. Thomas.

The coach said that Annu Raj had done remarkably well to recover from the blow of shooting 8s with her first two shots, and was also in the reckoning for a good score, but lost her way in the last series. “The 91 in the last card completely spoilt the show. Otherwise, she had looked to be reaching around 382’’, said Thomas.

The Indian pistol shooters had remarkably well to make the Olympics, taking the number to four, after Samaresh Jung had been the lone pistol shooter from India in the last Games in Beijing.

However, they have not been able to match their best when the world was watching.

After Vijay Kumar, Heena and Annu Raj have failed to lift the gloom surrounding the Indian contingent, it will be the turn of Olympic champion Abhinav Bindra and World Championship bronze medallist Gagan Narang to put Indian shooting back to where it belongs, in the air rifle competition on Monday.

DPA adds:

Kimberly Rhode won skeet shooting gold on Sunday to become the first American Olympian to win medals in an individual event at five straight Games, after her buildup was complicated when her dog ate her airline ticket to London.

Guo Wenjun of China overcame a late hiccup to win back—to—back 10—metre air pistol gold medals in the day’s other event at the Royal Artillery Baracks.

The 2010 world champion Rhode topped the qualifying round with a score of 74 and added 25 in the final for the Olympic record and world record equalling overall tally of 99, missing just one of the 100 clay targets in rainy conditions.

Wei Ning of China had to settle for silver as in 2004 with a score of 91 and Slovakia’s Danka Bartekova won a shoot—off for bronze against Russian Marina Belikova after both were tied on 90.

“It is just an honour ... One thing I have learned from over five Olympics it is about the journey. That is what hits you when that flag goes up,” Rhode said.

The 33—year—old has medalled in five Olympics, winning double trap gold in 1996 and 2004, skeet silver in 2008 and double trap bronze in 2000 before her latest coup — and more in the pipeline.

“I do not see myself quitting any time soon. I am looking forward to 2016 and beyond. The oldest Olympic medallist is a shooter and he is 72. I still have a few in me.” Rhode’s success came after an unusually difficult trip to Europe for the Olympics. Two flight cancellations made her miss a training camp in Denmark, her husband lost his passport and their poodle ate the airline ticket which then had to be reissued.

Guo, 28, won the qualifying round but was down to third place with two rounds left in the final. But the 2008 champion rebounded and got back to the top in the 10th and last shot of the final when then leader Celine Goberville of France faltered.

Guo took air pistol gold with a score of 488.1. Goberville and the Athens 2004 champion Olena Kostavych of Ukraine had 486.6 each, but the French won a shoot—out for silver.

“I just focused on doing my best on the final shot,” Guo said, adding in reference to the poor eighth shot “I couldn’t keep thinking about it.” “I am very excited and very, very happy. Beijing was my first time. I didn’t think too much of it. I didn’t set myself a goal. This time, I had a goal, I had more desire. I’ve achieved that goal and that’s why I’m more excited.” Goberville was delighted with the medal after managing to regroup in the shoot—off after the 10th—shot mishap.

“I was a little stressed but my training teaches me to focus. I will focus more on future,” she said.

“I am very happy. It is my first Olympic Games and I wanted to win something for me and for the French nation. I can’t believe I did something so good.”

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