More than a silver won, it was a gold lost for India, on a day when the host shooters looked good to make a clean sweep of the wares on display.
Double-trap marksman and world record holder Ronjan Sodhi was firing on all cylinders, having shot a perfect score of 50 in the first round and smashed a straight 30 in the second round of the pairs event, when a referee's call broke his rhythm and the Delhi marksman floundered thereafter.
He missed the 31st bird and was never the same again. An international woman referee halted Ronjan just when he was going for his 31st and 32nd birds, to clear a group of people who had gathered near the scoreboard, thus drawing objection from a Malaysian shooter.
His concentration broken, the champion shooter missed the ensuing shot and was later 'denied' a 'hit', when the same referee ruled a 'loss' despite Ronjan chipping the clay bird and black smoke coming out from the hit.
Even before Ronjan could protest, the marksman standing at the next station, Russell Mark of Australia — who incidentally was also his coach sometime back — had taken stance, forcing the Indian shooter to abandon all thoughts of registering a protest.
Two birds lost, it was an uphill task for Ronjan and his younger partner, junior world champion Asher Noria, and they missed out to England's Stevan Walton (96) and Steven Scott (93) who aggregated 189. Ronjan (95) and Noria (93) aggregated 188.
The difference between the teams was one point. An upset Ronjan's coach, Moraad Ali Khan, said, “It's very difficult to get the rhythm back. When you are in that frame of mind and going after the clay bird, even a little distraction can wreak havoc. It's bad, we've missed out on gold.”
“The referee, after halting Ronjan in his stance, should have given him the benefit of a 'sighting bird', which would have helped him follow its trajectory. This didn't happen and he missed the very next bird,” said Moraad. Interestingly, shotgun is the only event where the maximum referees are from abroad.