England’s Steven Scott will return home with bittersweet memories. The champion double-trap shooter, weathered a strong field to clinch gold in the Commonwealth Championships, but the injury he suffered early in the morning at the Karni Singh Ranges would have dampened his spirits.
Scott was the second English shooter to get injured, and all because of the rubble strewn at the range. On Thursday, rifle shooter Michelle Smith had twisted her ankle. With the trauma centre — which gave a live demonstration of its preparedness at the opening ceremony — unable to provide her crutches, she came for competition on Friday assisted by two fellow shooters.
An Indian shooter who clinched gold on Sunday conceded that the range was only 70 per cent complete. With open manholes, bricks, mortar, mud and iron grills scattered all around, it’s only the diehard and competitors who are braving the odds. With no warning signs or tapes to cordon off the dangerous zones, a more serious mishap is round the corner.
An English team official said Scott injured the toe of his left leg at the shotgun range. “He stepped on something and has probably torn a ligament,” he said adding that the champion was on Paracetamol and in deep pain.
A limping Scott led after the first three rounds in double-trap, scoring 140/150. In the finals, he shot a fine 47/50 to aggregate 187 for gold. Mohammed Asab, the 22-year-old Indian, came a close second at 185, while veteran Vikram Bhatnagar was third (183).
The abysmally low number of international participants was apparent when Vijay Kumar and Pemba Tamang won the 25m rapid fire pistol pairs gold unopposed. The International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) rules say that in the event of just one participating team, the gold should not be awarded. But the Commonwealth Shooting Federation (CSF) “relaxed” the rules and the gold was awarded to the duo.
“Even I was not sure whether the two would get gold. It could be a last-minute decision of the Commonwealth Shooting Federation,” said national coach Sunny Thomas.
Despite the sparse field, Vijay was superb as he shot a personal best of 588/600 in competition.
“It should be ratified as national and Commonwealth Championships record,” said Thomas. The aggregate score of 1152 by Vijay and Pemba too was a Commonwealth Championship record, erasing the pervious mark 1123 set by Pemba and Ramkishan Yadav in 2005.
Meena Kumari added the second gold of the day in 50m rifle three-position with a score of 671.9, while Samresh Jung and Zakir Khan took India’s gold medal tally to nine by winning the 10m air rifle pairs event with a score of 1158.
Ashab’s day out
Young Meerut boy, Mohammed Ashab, was the talking point after his silver-medal winning performance in double-trap.
Though Scott never allowed the lead to slip, Ashab pushed him hard.
“I didn’t expect such a sterling performance from a shooter competing in the senior category for the first time,” said foreign shotgun coach Marcello Dradi. “He has been simply superb.”
On his part, Ashab, who credits his exploits to his elder brother in the Army, said, “It’s all about being mentally strong. I was the undisputed junior national champion from 2001 to 2009, so it’s a good transition.”
On Saturday, the Meerut marksman had won the pairs gold along with Bhatnagar, emerging the higher scorer with 96/100 points.