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Surinder strikes when others struggle

Surinder Singh Rathod of the Army clinched his maiden national gold in the 50m rifle prone category with a score of 694.7, reports Ajai Masand.

other Updated: Jan 06, 2009 21:54 IST
Ajai Masand

The scores said it all. Given the problems shooters have been facing in Thodupuzha, a sub-par performance was on the cards, and the first final at the National Shooting Championships on Tuesday gave an indication of what to expect in the fortnight-long event.

Surinder Singh Rathod of the Army clinched his maiden national gold in the 50m rifle prone category with a score of 694.7, thus pushing the likes of national record holder in the event, Joydeep Karmakar (Railways), and world record holder in 10m air rifle, Gagan Narang, to second and third spots respectively.

It was a day when none of the eight finalists could even come close to 595/600 in the preliminary rounds. "I cannot think of such poor scores ever shot at the National," said a finalist. "But what do you do when you are given SK Magazine brand cartridges which are mostly used by starters or in club competitions. We are willing to shell out more for better brands like Eley and Midas but they are not available here," he said.

But cartridges and conditions apart, Surinder Singh was on song on Tuesday. After shooting 592 in the preliminaries, he came up with superb marksmanship in the 10-shot final, and barring a 9.4, he went about his task like a seasoned marksman.

On the other hand, Gagan Narang, fresh from his world record score at the World Cup Finals in Bangkok late last year in the 10m air rifle event, fizzled out, shooting three sub-10 scores and allowing Kolkata based Joydeep Karmakar — placed fifth after he preliminaries — to claw back and grab silver. A three-time national champion and national record holder in the event, Joydeep started off well with identical 10.5s in the first two finals shots. He even got a perfect 10.9 on the fourth shot, but could not displace Surinder Singh, who was far too ahead.

"The final shots went off smoothly and brought me my maiden gold, although I was shooting with the likes of Gagan and Joydeep," said Surinder who hails from Mehsana district in Gujarat and serving the 2nd Mahar Regiment. "The victory has come close on the heels of the team gold at the SAF Championships (at Islamabad in November last year). So, I am pretty happy about it," said the 27-year-old.