A furious Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore shot from the mouth on Tuesday. Those who have seen him over the years would swear that he hasn't been this angry before.
After finishing with a bronze in double-trap event, Rathore breathed fire against the Doha organisers for ‘conspiring’ against the top shooters participating at the Al Lusail Ranges.
An event which was supposed to bring India a gold medal, ended up fetching them a silver in the team event with Rathore, Ronjan Sodhi and Vikram Bhatnagar notching up an aggregate of 409 to finish behind the Chinese. Then came Rathore’s turn to show his mettle in the individual final.
The Athens Olympic silver-medallist had shot a 46, 43 and a perfect 50 in the three qualification rounds and went into the final (where six top shooters qualify) with a score of 139, which put him at tied-third with UAE's Saif Alshamsy.
The Chinese duo of Wang Nan and Hu Binyun were first and second with 144 and 143 respectively.
In the final, he missed the 21st, 24th, 36th and 42nd targets to finish with a 46 out of 50, an aggregate of 185 and a bronze medal.
Immediately after coming out of the competition area, one could very easily make out from his face that he was feeling 'wronged.' He blasted the organisers for altering the speed of the machine which launches the clay targets.
“I shot a poor 43 in the second series 50 because of which I ended up with a bronze. The officials, just to deny top shooters medals, reduced the speed of the targets so that they fell between 45 and 50 metres, instead of the normal 55,” he said.
Incidentally, one of the host shooters, Rashid Al Athba, was also among the six finalists but finished fifth with 180 points.
“It was done intentionally,” Rathore said and added that from that point in time he decided he would show the organisers what he could achieve. “It's strange that I lost four out of the 10 opening shots in the second round when the targets were coming out from Station No. 9,” he added.
“It was a gutsy performance to catch up and I am happy that I could give such a tremendous performance,” said the Armyman, for whom this was first his Asian Games medal.
When asked if it was wrong on part of the organisers to do this, he said: “I won't go to the extent of using such a strong word, but certainly it is criminal for them to do such a thing. They should realise that this is not a club-level tournament, but the Asian Games,” he said.
However, the Qatari range officials have denied the allegations. “Nothing went wrong. The allegations are baseless,” said one official.
The controversy apart, Indian shooters finished with four silver and three bronze and with just a couple of events to go — and neither likely to bring India a medal — this probably will remain the final tally from the ranges.