It was an unforgettable day for Indian marksmen, but a forgettable day for others. Well almost.
The Karni Singh Ranges once again became a happy hunting ground for the host marksmen as they mopped up two gold and an equal number of silver to leave their rivals gasping for breath and searching for ideas on the inaugural day of the shooting competition.
The conditions were perfect, the range impeccable and the two leading lights of Indian shooting --- Abhinav Bindra and Gagan Narang --- in sublime form for the first event of the day, the 10m rifle (pairs) event.
No wonder the duo came up with an earth-shattering performance, aggregating 1193 points to erase the Commonwealth Games record of 1189 set by them four years back at the Melbourne Games.
Gold secured, the stands burst into wild celebration, much to the chagrin of the competitors who were still shooting. Crowds milled around Bindra's father, coaches hugged the champions and the Games volunteers went into a tizzy, trying to bring a sense of normality at the range, even as coaches and support staff of other countries cringed.
India started their campaign on a roaring note. A block away, at the 25m range, pistol shooters, Anisa Sayyed and young Rahi Sarnobat from Kolhapur, were scripting another success story. The Australians made a strong bid for the title, even leading at the end of the first series, but in the end, the Indians effectively shut out the competition with a 10-point lead for another Games record.
The aggregate score for Anisa (572) and Rahi (584) read 1156, which was six points better than the previous record of Australia's Lalita Yauhleuskaya and Linda Ryan) set at the 2002 Manchester Games.
The competition was tough but the two gold medal-winning teams made it look simple. “It was not a cakewalk,” said Narang at the post-event press conference. “The competition is always tough when you perform in front of the home
crowd. Every shot in the 10 takes a lot of energy,” said the champion who shot a 598/600, eclipsing his more illustrious partner by three points. Bindra and Narang were in sync even while answering questions. “Each 10 was hard to get. It wasn't easy,” seconded the Olympic champion.
Coach, Sunny Thomas, chipped in by saying the pressure of shooting at home was immense. “If we are able to better the tally of 27 medals at the Melbourne Games, it will be a bonus, with all the pressure.”
The Indians stood up to the pressure on Tuesday. The onus is now on them to prove their coach wrong.