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Silver lining on dull day

india Updated: Nov 16, 2010 01:44 IST
Ajai Masand

After the dizzy heights, the lows. Pankaj Advani's performance in billiards on Sunday couldn't inspire the snooker team to raise its game, as it went down to China in the final to settle for silver. The shooters plumbed to new lows at the Aoti Complex, unable to win even a bronze in the six-team and individual events scheduled on Monday.

The snooker team of stalwart Yasin Merchant, Aditya Kumar, Brijesh Damani went down to China's Junhui Ding, Liang Wenbo and Tian Pengfei 1-3 (16-70, 51-46, 27-68, 0-96).

But the shocker came at the Aoti complex, where Indian marksmen dished out a pathetic performance as South Korea and China continued their forward march, clinching three gold each. Gagan Narang, world record holder in 10m air rifle, and world champion, Tejaswini Sawant, were the biggest disappointments, finishing 24th and 11th respectively in the individual 50m men's and women's rifle prone competition.

With the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) hardly sending the kind of support staff required for such high-performance events, it was natural for the performance to dip. Officials, who keep taking turns to become managers, armourers, coaches, selectors at major international competitions, have become the bane of Indian shooting.

Narang shot a 587, while Army man Hariom Singh was better at 590 and a 13th spot. In the 50m prone team event, the trio of Narang, Hariom and Surendra Rathod finished fifth.

In the women's individual 50m rifle prone event, Tejaswini finished 11th with 588, while the gold went to China's Wang Chengyi on 595. In the team event, the trio of Tejaswini, Meena Kumari and Lajja Gauswami finished fifth with 1759 points. The gold went to South Korea with 1775 points.

Vijay Kumar, after his come-from-behind bronze medal-winning performance in 10m air pistol on Sunday, was expected to up the tempo in his favourite event --- rapid-fire. But it seemed, he too had an off day. He came a dismal 17th with 568, while Rahul and Gurpreet Singh were better off on 10th and 11th positions respectively in the individual event. Their team finished fourth with a score of 1711.

Following the dismal performance, foreign rifle coach, Stanislav Lapidus, was ready with all the excuses, and they ranged from strong winds, some shooters using new rifles and the rigours of the CWG taking their toll.

"The strong winds upset their rhythm. We don't encounter such winds while training in Pune or Delhi. After the highs experienced at the CWG, performance was bound to suffer. Gagan is getting used to the new rifle, which he has never used before." Indians in action