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Of hits and misses

It would've been traumatic for Gagan Narang to miss a fifth consecutive gold at the Commonwealth Games here. But, the signs were ominous, much before he went into the competition arena on Tuesday. Ajai Masand reports.

delhi Updated: Oct 13, 2010 00:22 IST
Ajai Masand

It would've been traumatic for Gagan Narang to miss a fifth consecutive gold at the Commonwealth Games here. But, the signs were ominous, much before he went into the competition arena on Tuesday.

His partner in the 50m rifle prone (pairs) event, Hariom Singh, looked enervated after a bout of viral fever and with a strong line-up --- perhaps the strongest in the shooting events --- it was bound to be an uphill task for the duo.

Narang, as always, was in fighting form, but a few lanes away, his team-mate was struggling to cope with his health. After a few shots, the gold had vanished and around the halfway mark, the silver and bronze too looked a distant dream. The Indians finally settled for the fifth position.

Even Heena Sidhu and Annu Raj Singh's gold medal in 10m air pistol (pairs) some moments before the start of the prone competition could not lift the gloom at the Karni Singh Ranges, as everyone waited with bated breath for a fifth gold from Narang.

After his four gold, it was natural that all eyes were on Narang. The Hyderabadi shot a fine 593/600 but Hariom could manage just 580 and their aggregate of 1173 was not good enough in a field that had the likes of England's Neil Stirton and Australia's Warren Potent.

"Yes, I take the blame for the poor performance. I have let everyone down," was all Hariom could mutter before he left, heartbroken. There was no one to console him.

On a day when India won a gold and two silver, to take their gold medal tally to 14, the yellow metal came with a lot of effort, with Heena (384) and Annu Raj (375) winning on 'reverse count-back' after their aggregate score of 759 tied them with Australia's Dina Aspandiyarova (384) and Pamela Mckenzie (375). The two teams were even tied on 'inner 10s', but India finally won on 'reverse count-back' in the third series.

With Tuesday's haul, the Indian shooters bettered their Melbourne tally of 27 medals. And, with three more events to go on the final day --- one featuring Narang – it's only going to grow. The hosts now have 14 gold, 10 silver and four bronze.

'Goldfinger' in the 2006 Commonwealth Games with five gold, a silver and a bronze, Samaresh Jung (561) and CK Chaudhary (542) too clinched silver in 25m standard pistol with an aggregate of 1103, with the gold going to Singapore (1116).

World champion Tejaswini Sawant left her floundering form behind to smash a 594/600 and clinch silver behind Scotland's Jen McIntosh (597) in 50m rifle prone (individual).

The onus now is on Narang to help India retain the David Dixon Award for the best sportsperson at the Games.

Wednesday will provide the answer.