Vijay Kumar bagged the centrefire pistol bronze medal in the ‘dueling' session for an aggregate of 583, but rifle ace Gagan Narang lost yet another race to Zhu Qinan of China, as he missed the bronze medal in the 50-metre 3-position event by a half point, in the Asian Games on Thursday.
After surprising everyone with an air pistol individual bronze medal, it was a healthy finish for the unassuming Vijay Kumar, a specialist rapidfire shooter, as he shot rounds of 97, 95, 98, 98, 97 and 98 to help Indian shooting overcome a three-day drought of medals.
Two-time world champion, the 44-year-old Byung Taek Park of Korea took the gold with a total of 586, a point ahead of Liu Yadong of China.
Vijay Kumar had won three gold and a silver medal in the recent Commonwealth Games, but could not find much support from the team. Another triple gold medallist, Omkar Singh, came good with a total of 580 but the third member, Harpreet Singh, was way behind at 563, 32nd in a field of 39. India was thus placed fifth, eight points behind bronze medallist DPR Korea.
Jaspal Rana had helped India win the individual and team gold medals in the last edition in Doha, with a world record score then, of 590.
Gagan Narang was at his fighting best in his attempt to retain the bronze that he had won in Doha in the rifle 3-posiiton event, but an 8.3 eighth shot in the final undid his good work, and a brilliant 10.6 last shot proved futile.
Narang qualified fourth with a total of 1162, following 393 in prone, 382 in standing and 387 in kneeling. It was tough to catch up with the Koreans, Jinseop Han (1169) and Jonghyun Kim (1166), but he shot solid in the final for a total of 99.8 that put him ahead of Midori Yajima of Japan who had 1165 in the qualification.
National record holder Sanjeev Rajput, with 1172 against his name in the Commonwealth Championship in February, was unable to follow up his 394 in prone, and rounds of 379 in standing and 373 in kneeling, pulled him down to a total of 1146 and the 15th place, two slots behind Imran Hasan Khan (1150).
The Indian team finished fourth, 13 points behind bronze medallist China, among 12 countries. The same three-member Indian squad had won the bronze last time.
Incidentally, it was an encouraging improvement for Narang to graduate from three bronze medals, to two silver medals, including the individual air rifle silver.
However, after winning four gold medals, it was tough for double world record holder Narang to eke out more from himself within a short period, at the end of a hectic season, in which the shooters have had to tackle the world championship apart from the World Cups and Commonwealth Championship.
After three silver and two bronze medals for India in pistol and rifle events, action shifted to the shotgun range, and world champion Manavjit Singh Sandhu was placed eighth after three rounds of 23, 24, 23, three points behind the leader, Joe Salem of Lebanon. Mansher Singh was on 67 and Zorawar Singh Sandhu, 64, with two more rounds left for the morrow, before the final featuring the top six.