It's a grand paradox of sport. The same sport that makes you can also destroy you -- more mentally than physically. If someday it can create a champion, on any other day, the same sport can turn anyone into a mere mortal. It is this uncertainty that makes it all the more alluring and captivating. And if it's the Olympics --- the ultimate sporting spectacle on earth --- then it gets further complicated.
Any other day, in any other competition, Anjali Bhagwat would have kept her nerves. Her hands would have been still and her mind focussed. Anywhere else, she would have controlled each and every movement of her body and could have easily adjusted her psyche. But in the Shooting Hall in Shijingshan here on Saturday, she failed miserably on all fronts, something that affected her time management during the 10m air rifle event.
Anjali was left with just eight minutes to finish her last 10-shot round. Of the stipulated time of 75 minutes, her first three rounds had consumed 60 minutes. "I had problems controlling my body movements," said Anjali after finishing 29th in her event with a score of 393, scoring 99, 99, 97 and 98 in the four preliminary rounds.
"After two series, I had to readjust and stabilise my body position so that I could get some rhythm into my game," said the Sydney Olympic Games finalist. "I should not have taken so much time, which eventually hampered my last series of shots. There was lot of time pressure in the last five shots."
Like a true sport, Anjali admitted that she was capable of doing better. "I believe I should have done better. Overall, it was a disappointing score."
Avneet Singh Sindhu, meanwhile, finished 10 places behind Anjali. For the young shooter from Badal village, though, what was more worrying than the ranking were her scores. "I know I could have scored more," she said with a tinge of disappointment.
"I started well but after the first nine in the third series, I started to give in," she said. "Suddenly I lost my rhythm and failed to recover." She had a score of 100 in the second series after shooting 98 in the first. In the third, she could only manage 96 and 95, far below her standard.
If someone thought Samresh Jung would seek redemption in the shooting hall, he was mistaken. The Delhi-based marksman could only aggregate 570. The Melbourne Commonwealth Games' best athlete had nothing to say after his preliminary round performance.
"I tried my best but it wasn't enough. I have been practicing only to win a medal here…It was just one of those days when it did not click for me," said Samresh who had qualified for the Games with a score of 584 at Munich.
India's shooting coach Sunny Thomas was unable to explain the failure in the big league.
"It seemed to be a case of pressure," he said.
"They shot way below what they have been doing even in practice. I cannot explain how this happened. Maybe pressure, maybe nerves. But there is one more day to go," Thomas said.