Samaresh Jung shoots two gold medals

TRIUMPHANT SMILES: Vivek Singh, Samaresh Jung and Ronak Pandit have every reason to be jubilant after their stellar show.   | Photo Credit: Photo: PTI

MELBOURNE: Indian marksman Samaresh Jung became the first double gold medallist of the 2006 Commonwealth Games, winning two pistol pairs events within four hours on Saturday and with different partners.

Shrugging off the disappointment of failing to defend their 50m air pistol pairs title on Friday, Jung and Vivek Singh emerged on top in the men's 10m air pistol pairs with a Games record.

Jung (578) and Singh (576) shot 1,154, two points ahead of England's Nick Baxter and Mick Gault, who fired 1,152. Both pairs surpassed the previous Games record of 1,145. Australia's David Moore and Daniel Repacholi won bronze, with 1,144.

Pairs with Pandit

Jung then paired up with Ronak Pandit in the evening to break another Games record en route to winning the men's 25m standard pistol pairs.

Jung (565) and Pandit (574) son of former Commonwealth Games gold medallist Ashok Pandit had a new Games mark of 1,139, well clear of Australians Moore and Bruce Quick, who took the silver with 1,112. South Africa's Allan McDonald and Daniel van Tonder took the bronze with 1,106.

Jung and Jaspal Rana had set the previous record of 1,130 in 2002.

"I'm relieved at winning the gold after Friday's disappointment in an event where Vivek and I were the title holders," said Jung, who is competing in eight events here. Jung, 35, said his target was a podium finish in all eight pistol events. "I came here with expectations of eight medals, and that's intact," Jung said on Saturday.

Jung won two gold and three silver medals in 2002.

"I'm not too happy with the scores, but the gold is a big boost," Jung said after winning his first gold.

No pressure

Jung said he doesn't look at the scores of other shooters, hence felt no pressure even as India's seven-point lead narrowed down to three towards the end.

Singh said he was on tenterhooks as he watched Jung shoot the last round. "I was feeling the pressure," he said. But, "We slept well last night after pushing the missed gold out of our minds."

In the evening, Jung didn't need to watch. His partner, Pandit shot the top score among all 24 marksmen and the Indian team finished 27 points clear of the silver medallists.

"There's a lot more to come," Jung said. This gold medal, India's fifth at the ranges in two days, marked the return of the Pandit family among the Commonwealth Games gold-winners' table.

"My dad's now got to compete with me for getting into the team," said Pandit, whose multiple Commonwealth Games medallist father continues to participate in shooting events.

Beaming coach

A beaming coach Sunny Thomas, who took over the Indian team in 1993, just before the Victoria Commonwealth Games, said, "the results for Indian shooting are beginning to show now. From three gold and two silver in 1994, we have consistently improved and were the No. 1 in 2002 at Bisley.

"The shooters are now getting all the facilities and this is one sport that can bring India many medals even at the Olympics in the future," he added.

In men's 50m rifle prone pairs, India's Joydeep Karamarkar and Sanjeev Rajput finished fifth while the gold went to England's Mike Babb and Chris Hector. It was the first event in which India finished out of the medals. Babb and Hector scored 1,182 to win the gold with Scotland's Martin Sinclair and Neil Stirton second with 1,179.

In the distaff section, Deepali Deshpande and Lakshmi Priya finished ninth in 50m rifle prone pairs. The gold went to Scotland. Susan Jackson and Sheena Sharp shot 1,166 to win.

England's Sharon Lee and Helen Spittles took the silver on a tiebreaker with the New Zealand pair of Juliet Etherington and Kathryn Mead after both teams finished with 1,161. AP, UNI